9 April 2012

A big round of applause for Jenna Talackova

I’ve been watching as the media attention has grown around the Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova with great interest and now of course its world news; so much so as Jenna, her mother and her celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred have appeared on the prime time ABC 20/20 show with journalist Barbara Walters - were talking of bringing this issue to the attention of millions of ordinary Americans.  

The head of Miss Universe Canada kicked Jenna out two weeks ago after discovering that she is transgender. The official said that Jenna had to have been born a female to participate.  

At the time, a brief statement on the front page of the website for Beauties of Canada, the company that oversees the Miss Universe Canada pageant, stated that Jenna had been removed from the competition ‘because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. 

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) contacted the Miss Universe Organisation last week after Jenna was disqualified and called on the Miss Universe Organisation to review Jenna's case, as well as open the competition to transgender women.
    Jenna Talackova

Jenna, 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, who is famous for representing clients including a string of Tiger Woods' ex-lovers and Nicole Brown Simpson's family during the O.J. Simpson trial, demanding to be allowed back into the contest.

 "I am a woman. I was devastated and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust," Jenna said in a statement she read to reporters. She and Allred also called for the Miss Universe organisation to abolish its rule requiring contestants to be ‘naturally born’ females. Allred called it "an antiquated rule grounded in prejudice, fear and stereotypes."

"It isn't just about her being able to compete," Allred said. "Jenna is standing up for others as well as herself. She doesn't want this type of discrimination to be faced by anyone else."

But by then, pageant organisers had already reversed course on Jenna’s eligibility at the request of Donald Trump, who is president and owner of the Miss Universe organisation. 

"As long as she meets the standards of legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, which we understand that she does, Jenna Talackova is free to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant," said Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump.
Jenna Talackova with Barbara Walters

In the interview with ABC journalist Barbara Walters she said: “As soon as I was conscious, I just always knew that I was not what they were saying. It wasn’t right. I thought that I was in the wrong body.” 

She revealed to Barbara Walters that though the gender reassignment surgery at the age of 19 and subsequent hormone treatments were intense and painful, it was ultimately 'rewarding'. “I feel like the universe, the Creator, just put me in this position as an advocate, and now it’s like this, and I’ll take that position, if it’s helping anybody else, my story and my actions, then I feel great about it.”

I think it’s a most surprising way for this issue to get this attention. I don’t really get the beauty pageant thing; I would have expected them to be extinct by now. I guess it’s a pretty girl thing – lost on me – but I have enormous respect for Jenna and for ultimately putting this last big bias on the world radar for us.

Over recent years progressive trannys have lobbied to jump every legal hurdle around identity.  It started with the UK group ‘Press for Change’ when by a narrow majority in the historical House of Lords gave their nod to a bill allowing transgender woman, with the appropriate evidence, to have their birth certificate reissued in their chosen gender. This major legislation has since trickled across the world. 

So this is the point being made, I suspect unintentionally by Jenna, every legal hurdle has been met for a transgender woman to be accepted and respected as such – we just want society to catch up. We live in a very real world and sure it could be a couple of generations for real acceptance - but a big round of applause to Jenna Talackova for putting it out there.


  1. I aggree .. Tula did it first and now Jenna .. one day we will be excepted.

  2. or even accepted Penny. :)