Jenna Talackova, the 23-year-old transgender Canadian who was booted from the upcoming Miss Universe Canada pageant, could possibly be reinstated to the competition, organizers have said.
Talackova, who was born a male but underwent sexual reassignment surgery four years ago, was originally told she would not be able to participate in the 61st Miss Universe Canada pageant in May because she had lied in her application about being a naturally born female.
The decision, based on the rules created by the larger Miss Universe organization, run by billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump, sparked a wave of worldwide criticism, including a petition on website Change.com that gathered more than 41,000 signatures demanding Talackova be reinstated to the competition. Still, others have insisted that the rules are there for a reason.
Denis Davila, director of the Canadian pageant, explained: "We have to have the facts straight. There is no discrimination here at all. You can look at it the way she wants to look at it, but we all have to follow the same rules."
"I'm disqualified, however I'm not giving up. I'm not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination," the beauty contestant posted on her Twitter account, and had announced plans for a news conference on Tuesday in Los Angeles with Gloria Allred, a high-profile lawyer specializing in women's rights, USA Today reported.
Soon after, however, the Miss Universe organization announced on the Miss Canada website that Talackova can compete "provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions."
This has led to a number of news sources to claim that Talackova has been reinstated to the pageant, but her lawyer, Joe Arvay, has said the announcement does not really clarify too much, and that the Canadian legal gender recognition requirement is "incomprehensible." He also argued that the original requirement for all contestants to be "naturally born females" does not comply with Canada's human rights law.
Talackova previously competed in the 2010 Tiffany Miss International Queen Competition for transgendered and transsexual women in Pattaya, Thailand, and began hormone therapy at 14 years of age.
There are still many, however, who say that a women's competition and a transgender one should be separate.
"If you can't tell the difference, that's your issue. But just as the Olympics bars performance enhancing drugs ... so too should the MU competition bar surgical alteration for any and all contestants. No liposuction ... --- ... no transgender surgery. Claiming you're a gender that you're physically not is perpetrating a fraud," said GeorgeBos95 on the CNN blog.