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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 22 October, 2014

Miss Universe to allow transgender contestants from 2013

The contest will allow transgender women from next year, following the outcry when a Canadian entrant was kicked out.

Jenna Talackova was kicked out of the Miss Canada 2012 final by organisers who said entrants must be
Jenna Talackova was kicked out of the Miss Canada 2012 final by organisers who said entrants must be "naturally born" a woman.
Image: Reed Saxon/AP

THE ORGANISERS of the Miss Universe competition have said they will allow transgender women to enter the competition from next year, following international outcry when a Canadian woman was barred from the contest.

Officials today said they were working on the final wording of the change to the rules, but that the initial rounds of next year’s competition – which begin later this summer – will permit transgender women to take part.

The move comes after international outcry when Vancouver woman Jenna Talackova was stopped from advancing to the finals of the Miss Canada 2012 because she was born male.

The advocacy group GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) called on the Miss Universe Organisation to review Talackova’s case, as well as open the competition to transgender women.

“We want to give credit where credit is due, and the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organisation.

We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.

Talackova, who underwent gender reassignment surgery four years ago, was disqualified from the Miss Canada pageant because competition rules said she must be “naturally born” a woman.

“I am a woman,” Talackova said last week. “I was devastated, and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust. I have never asked for any special consideration. I only wanted to compete.”

Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organisation, wished her the best of luck. The amended rules will have to be approved by Trump and NBC, who co-own the contest.

- Colleen Long

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