When it was reported earlier in March that a transgender woman named Jenna Talackova would be a finalist in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, it seemed a fine, sunny day for the LGBT community, as Talackova's inclusion in the finals represented at least one step in the direction of wider social acceptance for transgendered people. Then some really bigoted beauty pageant purists clouded those sunny skies and pressured the Miss Universe powers-that-be to kick Talackova out of the contest.
On Friday, the pageant organization (Miss Universe, for anyone keeping score, is owned by Donald Trump) released a statement explaining Talackova's sudden exclusion: "She did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form." This, in so many words, means that, since she was born with a penis, her surgically crafted vagina can't compete with all the inherited vaginas parading around a Toronto stage. Her image was removed from the Miss Universe website and the pageant has said little else to justify her dismissal, despite mounting pressure from a transgender advocacy group that has recently criticized Miss Universe organizers for their sudden spinelessness.
Canadian press agency QMI reached out to Mara Keisling, the executive director of the Washington D.C.-based National Center for Transgender Equality, who said that Talackova identifies as and technically is a woman, so she should be allowed to compete.
It's straightforward. They made a decision that they want to discriminate against transgender women. More and more people understand this person is a woman. There's nothing about her that should disqualify her.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Talackova doesn't plan to release a statement until next week, most likely because she's still processing how arbitrarily awful and prejudiced the world can be from one minute to the next.
Miss Universe Canada disqualifies transgender contestant [Vancouver Sun]