The Miss Universe Organization has backtracked on their earlier decision to disqualify a transgender contestant from the Canadian pageant because she did not meet the requirements of being a “naturally born female.” In an emailed statement on Monday, Miss Universe executive vice president Michael D. Cohen said 23-year-old Jenna Talackova can return to the competition “provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions."
Cohen did not specify what the exact “gender recognition requirements” are. Talackova, who was born a male but underwent gender reassignment surgery at age 19, has not commented. She previously vowed to fight the pageants “discrimination.” "I'm disqualified, however I'm not giving up," she tweeted in late March. "I'm not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination."
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, also known as GLAAD, applauded Miss Universe’s decision to let Talackova back into the pageant.
"The Miss Universe Organization made the right decision and has taken an important first step. Now, GLAAD urges the Organization to include all women and use this incident to speak out in support of the transgender community. So many women today do not have equal opportunities for employment, housing and safety simply because they are transgender. The Miss Universe Organization should look to state non-discrimination laws and institutions including the Olympics, NCAA and The CW’s America’s Next Top Model, which do not discriminate against transgender women,” said GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick.
The Miss Universe Canada Pageant will be held on May 19 in Toronto.
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