Trump overrules rejection of transgender beauty queen

Tue Apr 3, 2012 9:20pm EDT
 
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By R.T. Watson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Businessman Donald Trump has overturned a decision by the Miss Universe Organization, which he owns, to disqualify a Canadian transgender beauty pageant contestant because she was not a "naturally born" female.

Jenna Talackova, a tall blonde who underwent gender-reassignment surgery at age 19 and holds legal documents affirming her identity as a woman, wants pageant organizers to go further and drop eligibility rules she calls discriminatory.

Talackova, 23, was kicked out of the Miss Universe Canada competition last Friday after she was selected as one of 65 finalists. The winner of that contest, who ultimately will be crowned on May 19 in Toronto, will go on to represent Canada in the global Miss Universe Pageant later in the year.

In throwing her out, pageant organizers accused Talackova of having "falsified her application when she said she was born female," adding that the Miss Universe Organization "has rules which apply to all of its franchises around the world."

Her disqualification sparked commentary on the Internet and cable television news shows about the boundaries of gender identification, civil liberties and the rights of private organizations to set their own rules.

Talackova, who carries a Canadian passport, driver's license and birth certificate that all identify her as a woman, appeared on Tuesday with Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred, a high-profile legal advocate for women's causes, demanding to be allowed back into the contest.

'I WAS DEVASTATED'

"I am a woman. I was devastated and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust," Talackova said in a statement she read to reporters.   Continued...

 
Canadian model Jenna Talackova attends a news conference in Los Angeles, California April 3, 2012. Talackova, a transgender beauty queen who was dropped from the Miss Universe Canada competition by pageant representatives, has been given the green light to go by the Donald Trump-led Miss Universe Organization. The 23-year-old will, however, need to prove that she meets the "legal gender recognition requirements of Canada", according to local media. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni