Transgender model and beauty queen, Jenna Talackova, seemed to have it all. As a finalist, Talackova was competing for the dream title of Miss Universe Canada. However, after the young beauty admitted to officials that she is transgender, she was disqualified.
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, said a statement released by the Miss Universe Canada organization, a Donald Trump-owned beauty pageant.
Jenna Talackova, from Vancouver, said her perseverance remains: I'm disqualified, however I'm not giving up. I'm not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination.
She was selected from 65 finalists for the 2012 competition, which will be held in Toronto in May. The 6-foot, 1-inch blonde has received an outpouring of support from fans who hope to bring about change to an outdated system.
A change.org petition, created by a man from Brooklyn, NY, already has over 39,000 signatures. She is a woman and deserves to be treated as any other woman would be, the petition reads. What kind of genitals she was or was not born with (and even what kind of genitals she has today) is completely irrelevant. The petition also cites a loophole in the rules, There is no mention of rules regarding sex changes or cosmetic surgery.
On Monday Talackova tweeted, These words of inspiration have touched my heart, all of you are the miss. Universe beauty queens and kings in my eyes!
In a 2010 interview, Jenna Talackova said that she knew she was innately a female at the age of 4. She began hormone therapy at 14 and underwent gender reassignment surgery at 19. In an industry rife with cosmetic surgery, hair dying and the like, many were appalled at the negative response to Talackova's ambitions.
I think it's outdated and I think that as a society we're evolving, Connie McNaughton, Miss World Canada in 1984 and first-runner up at the contest's international event the same year, told the Huffington Post. There are certain countries who cosmetically, surgically, have their girls go and have updates. So (how different is it) if you've augmented your gender because in your heart and soul, you believe yourself to be a woman?
As a transgender, Talackova is not the only individual to face scrutiny and controversy in the fashion and modeling industry. Although she might be in a difficult situation at the moment, many transgender models have gone on to have illustrious careers.
Take Andrej Pejic. The gender-bending Bosnia-born model has skyrocketed to fame for his stunning androgynous style. Standing at 6-foot 1-inch, Pejic is an androgynous male model who sometimes poses as a man and at other times a woman. With long white blonde hair and bright blue eyes, he draws admiring glances from men who don't know he is actually a male.
In 2011, Pejic was on the cover of a whopping 14 magazines, according to FOX News. That is impressive work for even the top Victoria's Secret models. His most controversial cover yet was the Fall Preview issue of New York Magazine, out in August. On the cover shot, which initially appeared on Dossier magazine, Pejic was dolled up in smoky make-up and curlers but topless. His bare, male chest was a stark contrast to the stunning feminine face looking coyly at the camera.
The 20-year-old model again turned heads when he posed for a push-up bra ad campaign for the Dutch company HEMA. At the time, Pejic's agent, Joseph Tenni, said, It's revolutionary... I've never known a man to do a women's lingerie campaign before.
Response to the ads was powerful. One user wrote at the time That HEMA campaign is brilliant: Andrej Pejic sporting a push-up bra?! If a man looks good in that bra, it must be good stuff. Another added: Super BIG UP to Dutch department store HEMA for doing a push up bra campagne [sic] with Adrej Pejic!
Transgender supermodel Lea T. was another who stirred controversy when she appeared in French Vogue [NSFW] in July 2010 completely naked, revealing her breasts but cupping her male genitals with her hand. The photograph appeared with an article entitled Lea, born again. She first began living life as a female in 2008 and was discovered by Givenchy in late-2010.
The title fit the Brazilian brunette, who struggled with her identity for years.
I was hoping I was gay. I was like, ok, I'm gay, because for my family it's less painful....I wish I could accept my body as a man....I would be a straight guy, having a girlfriend and a family, daughters, married, a normal life, but it's something in your brain, she told Oprah Winfrey in a February 2011 interview.
However, Lea's father, Brazilian soccer player Toninho Cerezo, is proud of her. After seeing her walk in Alexandre Herchcovitch's Fall 2011 show at Sao Paulo Fashion Week, he said, Now I can die happy.
Click through the slideshow of Jenna Talackova and other transgender models and learn about the controversies they have overcome.