On the exterior, twenty-three-year-old Jenna Talackova looks like your typical beauty pageant contestant: flowing blond hair, a vivacious, feminine figure, and a perfectly painted face. So why did this Canadian beauty get disqualified from this year’s Donald Trump–sponsored Miss Universe Canada competition after securing a spot as one of the sixty-five finalists?
Despite being legally recognized as a female in Canada, Jenna was born a male. At the age of four, Jenna identified herself as a female, by the age of fourteen she began hormone therapy, and at nineteen, she underwent sexual reassignment surgery. According to a statement released last Friday on the Miss Universe website , Jenna was disqualified because “she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.” It went on to say, “We do, however, respect her goals, determination and wish her the best.” So what exactly was the requirement that Jenna failed to meet? The national director of Miss Universe Canada Denis Davila told the Toronto Star  that the Miss Universe rules stipulate that every contestant competing in the Miss Universe franchise must be “naturally born female.” Jenna was banned the same day after being questioned about her gender, and revealing that she lied on her application form.
Outraged by the beauty’s queen’s exclusion, Change.org  created a petition to allow the buxom blonde to compete for the crown, arguing that the rules don’t mention anything regarding sex-change operations or other cosmetic surgeries. With 22,000 plus signatures and counting, Jenna is receiving immense support from people who claim that her ineligibility is not only discriminatory, but hypocritical. The Twittersphere has blown up with comments about the prejudiced and duplicitous nature of the competition. One such tweet addresses the fact that the competition’s rules say nothing in regard to plastic surgery and other cosmetic alterations: “With all the temp & perm work that bio-women in pageants have done, seems hypocritical to disqualify transgendered.”
While Jenna clearly has tremendous support, there are those who believe that the competition is called “Miss” Universe for a reason and that she justly received the boot. The pageant blatantly states that all contestants must be born women, and to some, going against this would not only be a violation of the rules, but defiance of the competition’s values as well. But with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures available and permissible for all contestants, one has to wonder if there’s a difference between cosmetic enhancement of cheekbones, lips, or bustlines and a surgery to create female body parts. There are no rules that state that all contestants must be completely natural, so is it fair to kick someone out because they underwent a particular surgery?
Which side do you think should prevail? Should pageants treat transgender women those that are “naturally born” as women the same, or would the merit of the Miss Universe competition be compromised with the acceptance of transgender participants? Should Jenna should be reinstated in the Miss Universe competition or was her ousting justified?
Photo source: Facebook