By Anna Jaffray
Beauty queen and Vancouver resident, Jenna Talackova, was ousted from the Miss Universe Canada competition after she admitted to being born a boy. However, due to pressures from a change.org petition, the media, and GLAAD – Miss Universe Canada has agreed to let Talackova compete in May.
Talackova said in an interview that she felt she was meant to be a girl from the age of 4. She began hormone treatment at age 14, and underwent surgery at age 19.
But the Donald Trump owned beauty pageant released a statement which read, “She did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. We do, however, respect her goals, determination and wish her the best.”
Talackova’s legally recognized gender in her home state of British Colombia is female, and she listed her gender as such on the competition’s registration forms. The Miss Universe Canada rules state that all contestants must be born female, in addition to rules against falsifying registration.
Talackova was originally selected from 65 finalists. Canadians, pundits, celebrities, organizations and activists called controversy when the ruling barring Talackova from competing was first made. The campaign by change.org garnered over 41,700 signatures in her support.
Conservative commentator, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, also spoke out in support of Talackova. “What right does Miss Universe pageant have to violate this lady’s right to be a woman…they’re basically saying that because you weren’t born a woman, you don’t have the right to be a woman…on her passport it says she’s a woman…it doesn’t sound right to me.”
Executive vice president of the competition and special counsel to Donald Trump, Michael D. Cohen, said in an e-mailed statement Monday evening that the 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.”
Talackova and her attorney, Gloria Allred, had previously scheduled a press conference for Tuesday. Neither woman has commented since the decision was reversed, but it is expected that Talackova will address whether or not she plans to compete at the conference.