A transgender beauty pageant contestant who was disqualified last week from the Miss Universe Canada competition after the organizers discovered that she had undergone surgery to become a woman, may be allowed to re-enter the competition if she can prove she meets the “legal gender recognition requirements,” pageant organizers announced Monday.
Jenna Talackova, a 23-year-old transgender woman, had reached the finals of the Miss Vancouver competition, but was ousted from the competition because organizers said she lied about having undergone sexual reassignment surgery.
Initially, pageant officials said each contestant must be a “naturally born female,” but in a statement released Monday, Miss Universe officials indicated that they might reverse their earlier decision.
“The Miss Universe organization will allow Jenna Talackova to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions,” according to a statement by Trump headquarters in New York City.
The brief statement — which did not specify what such requirements entail — came shortly after Talackova announced that she, and high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred, have scheduled a news conference for Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Vancouver constitutional lawyer Joe Arvay, who is on Talackova’s legal team, said the pageant requirement for “natural born” females does not comply with Canadian human rights legislation and that a complaint will be filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
“In the absence of clarity, we will be proceeding,” Arvay said. “At the present time, it’s gobbledygook.”
Allred’s office said its news conference is still proceeding as planned.
The decision to drop Talackova from the pageant led to charges of discrimination and fostered an online petition signed by more than 40,000 people calling for her reinstatement.
Talackova said she has identified as female since age four, began hormone therapy at 14 and had sex reassignment surgery in 2010.
The Miss Universe Canada pageant is a franchise licensed by the Miss Universe Organization, headed by U.S. business magnate Donald Trump.