They said/We said: Miss Universe Canada pulls finalist after discovering she is transgender

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Jenna Talackova's Miss Universe Pageant Photo

Miss Universe Canada has disqualified a “real girl” on the grounds of…well…not being a “real girl.” In a circular, confusing and seriously offensive series of events, Miss Universe Canada pulled transgender finalist Jenna Talackova from the competition on the basis that she didn’t meet competition rules.

CTV is reporting that though the application states contestants must be between the ages of 18-27 and Canadian, it says nothing about cosmetic surgery. Not according to Miss Universe Canada’s national director, Denis Davila, who said that the rules state each contestant must be a “naturally born female” and that Talackova lied about that on her registration form.

Though beauty pageants have never been known for their progressive thinking (or even thinking for that matter), this seems especially antiquated; we’re in an age of Andrej Pejic acting as the new Cindy Crawford and Lea T starring in Givenchy campaigns. We will say though, that it’s somewhat heartening to consider how strongly the mainstream media has rallied around Talackova and her cause.


Jezebel: “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.” [Jezebel]

Styleite: “The pageant concluded their statement with a rather unsatisfactory send-off: ‘We do, however, respect her goals [and] determination.’ Just not her identity, apparently.” [Styleite]


Rani Sheen, health and copy editor: “This kind of decision and the language used around it must be disappointing for Jenna Talackova, and for other transgender people, and it also raises the question of what type of womanhood beauty pageants represent. “The Miss Universe Canada application indicates contestants must be Canadian citizens between the ages of 18 and 27 to compete. It says nothing about having undergone cosmetic surgery,” says CTV—if it did, it would probably be a very different-looking pageant indeed. It’s beside the point, but as if Miss Universe contestants represent any kind of ‘natural’ woman anyway!”

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  • Lisa Harrigan

    I am so sorry that this person Jenna, has to be dragged through the media about this. But it is very simple she broke the rules and knew she was breaking the rules. When the delegates apply to the pageant they must sign a delegates disclosure which clearly outlines all the legal rules of being a contestant. Rules #2 clearly states that you must be a natural born female. Which she is not and she signed that she was. She knew this would happen, as she has previously competed in a transgendered pageant, this info is readily available online and was only a matter of time before it come out. The Miss Universe Canada organization has done nothing wrong. It is following the rules that the Miss Universe organization has set out and that they are under contract to follow. This is not discrimination, she simply does not fit the rules & requirements to be a contestant in this competition.
    Furthermore it is incredibly insulting to say “Though beauty pageants have never been known for their progressive thinking (or even thinking for that matter)”. There are so many amazingly talented and intelligent pageant winners & contestants. We are not chosen simply for beauty but for what we can do and our ability to use our titles to bring awareness to worthy causes. Many pageant titleholders have went on to become doctors, politicians, musicians, hollywood stars, advocates for injustice, environmental scientists… To say we don’t think is nothing more then a stereotyped generalization based on media’s lack of credible reporting.

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