Handout via modelmayhem.com
The organizers for Miss Universe Canada will not allow a transgender contestant to participate in the May pageant, saying that although she may feel like a woman, rules say she must be born a female, the Toronto Star reported.
Denis Davila, the national director of the Miss Universe Canada franchise, told the Vancouver Sun that the contestant, Jenna Talackova, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, wrote on her registration that she was born female. He suspected that she was born male and asked her about it earlier this month. She was dismissed that day.
Davila said that the Miss Universe franchise requires that contestants be “naturally born female,” according to the Sun.
“She feels like a real girl and she is a real girl. She didn’t expect people to question it,” Davila told the Sun. “She was hoping we could put her back in the competition, but the rules are very clear and there’s no way we can go back on it.”
He added: “She was excited about the competition. Just because she can’t compete doesn’t mean we stopped loving her.”
Those rules are not mentioned on the Miss Universe website, which states that contestants must be unmarried and 18 years or older.
Mara Keisling, who heads the National Center for Transgender Equality based in Washington, D.C., told the Toronto Star that she questioned the decision.
"From what I've read, it doesn't sound like they had any rules," Keisling said. "It seems like they made them up on the fly to disqualify her. It makes you wonder what they're afraid of."
A change.org petition initiated for Talackova quoted her Twitter feed, which has since been hidden.
Talackova wrote, according to the petition, that she was “disqualified for being born.”
On March 18, before learning she had been disqualified, she tweeted: “Still waiting to know if I’m able to compete ... praying and fingers crossed.”
When she was disqualified two days later, Talackova wrote, “I’m not giving up. I’m not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination.”
In 2010, when she was 19, Talackova competed in Miss International Queen, a competition for transgender and transsexual people. In an interview posted on YouTube, she said she knew she was a girl at age 4.
Speaking with a girlish lilt, the tall blonde contestant said that she started hormone therapy at age 14 and underwent a sex change surgery at 19.
A brief statement released Friday on the front page of the website for Beauties of Canada, the company that oversees the Miss Universe Canada pageant, stated that Talackova was removed from the competition “because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.”
Canada is one of the four countries along with France, Germany and the United States that have competed in every Miss Universe pageant since it was created in 1952. The Miss Universe Canada pageant will be held on May 19 in Toronto.
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Jenna Tacklova, interviewed at the finals of the 2010 Miss International Queen Competition, said she started hormone treatment at 14. Her interview begins at the 7:44 minute mark.