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MTPC’s Executive Director Speaks Out About Discrimination In the Miss Universe Pageant
Last week, Canada’s Miss Universe finalist, Jenna Talackova, was disqualified from the pageant because she is transgender. Ms.Talackova has competed in pageants for several years now and was Miss Vancouver in 2010. Ms. Talackova was being denied the opportunity to fulfill her dream, because of discrimination, plain and simple.
While not everyone dreams of being Miss Universe and works towards that goal like Ms. Talackova has done, this situation is not unlike discrimination in employment for transgender people. Many transgender youth and adults do not get the same opportunities, even when qualified, because of gender identity discrimination. Ms. Talackova met the qualifications to compete along with 64 other young women, but pageant officials disqualified her for not being a “naturally born woman.”
But, last night things turned around and the Miss Universe Organization released this statement:
“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.”
I believe this change came about because of strong and visible advocacy from a number of different organizations such as MTPC and GLAAD but especially from community members such as, transgender people, GLB people, straight allies, and many pageant fans. I am thrilled that Ms.Talackova will be given the opportunity to compete, but I also hope that the bar for other young transgender women to enter pageants like Miss Universe is not set so impossibly high that we may not see another contestant like Ms. Talackova in the near future. As many of us know, transition related health care and medical procedures are not always accessible and in some states in the US and some countries, it is not always possible to change gender information on all identity documents, no matter what kind of medical transition a person has gone through.
Today, we have a beautiful young women who is not just representing her country, but is an example for other young transgender girls that they can dream big and work towards making their dreams a reality, including the chance at being Miss Universe.
Watch MTPC’s Executive Director Speaking Out on Channel 5 News