Miss Universe and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced on Tuesday that the organization will allow all transgender women to compete in beauty pageants beginning in 2013 after a 23-year-old Canadian participant named Jenna Talackova garnered worldwide being disqualified, then reinstated, based on her gender.
According to The Associated Press, Miss Universe pageant officials are working to change the language of the official rules and policy that states contestants must be naturally born females.
Miss Universe discussed a policy change that includes transgender women in time for the start of this fall's 2013 pageant season; a time when most of the competitions around the world begin to take place, a joint statement from Miss Universe and GLAAD read.
The pageant, owned by Donald Trump, was under fire for disqualifying 23-year-old Talackova, who has not been allowed to compete provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions, according to the organization.
The policy change was spearheaded by Talackova, her attorney Gloria Allred and
For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender, GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick said in a statement. We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately. The Miss Universe Organization today follows institutions that have taken a stand against discrimination of transgender women including the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and The CW's 'America's Next Top Model.'
GLAAD said the competition will be open to all transgender contestants beginning in 2013 when the fall pageant season begins.
Talckova was disqualified on March 24 for not being natural born a woman, through her disqualification was overruled after she threatened a lawsuit and garnered national attention. The move comes five days after Talackova, a Vancouver native who underwent a sex change four years ago from male to female, was allowed to compete in the pageant.
Jenna and all of the LGBT advocates who have called for this change and spoken out in support of transgender women are to be commended., Graddick said. At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today's decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country.
However, Miss Universe President Paula Shugart said legal threats from Talackova were not part of the decision to change the rules for transgender contestants, but rather an ongoing conversation with gay rights activists.
We want to give credit where credit is due, and the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD and not Jenna's legal representation, which if anything delayed the process. We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously, Shugart said.
Allred, who worked as Talackova's attorney through the battle, said she believes the ruling from the Miss Universe organization is inadequate as it would only pertain to American and Canadian contestants.
Trump has conceded that he can't keep Jenna out of the competition because it would violate both U.S. and Canadian laws, she says. Trump's rule of requirement that a contestant be a natural-born female seems to still be in effect in other countries around the world.
Gloria Allread said that she wants to spearhead efforts to change the rules for all countries around the world.
We want Mr. Trump to eliminate this rule for the entire Miss Universe organization, but he has not agreed to do so. The rule is blatantly discriminatory and it is time to get rid of it - not just in the United States and Canada but around the world.