Miss Universe Canada Retracts Ban Against Transgender Beauty Queen Jenna Talackova
Officials for the Miss Universe Organization, run by Donald Trump, have retracted their initial ban against transgender hopeful contestant Jenna Talackova in their 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant.
Talackova, 23, was born with male sex organs but has identified as female since the age of 4, according to CBS. She started hormone therapy at 14 and had gender reassignment surgery at the age of 19.
The Miss Universe Canada competition reportedly barred her from the contest "because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her form," they said in a statement. "We do, however, respect her goals, determination, and wish her the best."
Talackova responded with her own statement. "I will look to turn this situation into a positive," she said, "so that other people in a similar situation are not discriminated against in the future." She also tweeted, "I'm not giving up. I'm not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination."
After the decision inspired rampant backlash against Trump's Miss Universe organization, including a petition with more than 41,000 signatures in defense of Talackova, the director of the Canadian pageant, Denis Davila, released a defense of the organization, reports The Christian Post. "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."
Talackova, of course, maintains that there were never any "rules" against transgender people competing for Miss Universe in the first place. She and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, had scheduled a press conference for this afternoon to talk about the incident, according to People.
But before the press conference could occur, the organizers issued another statement. "The Miss Universe Organization will allow Jenna Talackova to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions," wrote Michael D. Cohen, executive vice president and special counsel to Trump, on Monday night in a statement.
There is no word from Talackova as yet revealing whether or not she will still compete.