Miss Universe disqualifies transgender contestant
Published Sunday, March 25, 2012 10:23PM EDT
The national director of Miss Universe Canada says pageant organizers were simply following the rules when they pulled a transgendered finalist from the competition, flatly denying Jenna Talackova's claim that she was a victim of discrimination.
"We have to have the facts straight. There is no discrimination here at all," Denis Davila told CTV News. "You can look at it the way she wants to look at it … but we all have to follow the same rules."
With her long blonde locks and even longer legs, Talackova looks every inch the beauty queen.
But the Vancouver native was born a male, a fact she failed to note on her entry form for this year's Miss Universe Canada pageant.
The rules for the pageant franchise state that each contestant must be a "naturally born female."
Talackova claimed she was born a female, but an organizer grew suspicious and confronted her about her past. When she admitted her birth gender last week, she was disqualified.
"She was dishonest," Davila said.
Talackova, a 6-foot, one-inch model, released a statement to CTV News Sunday evening saying she was "disappointed" with the decision.
"I will look to turn this situation into a positive so that other people in a similar situation are not discriminated against in the future," she said.
On Friday, she sent a message over Twitter: "I'm not giving up." Talackova is expected to consult a lawyer this week.
The 23-year-old's photos and profile have been scrubbed from the Donald Trump-owned pageant's website.
"It's really unfortunate that we had to pull her out of the competition … But the truth of the matter is that we have a set of rules that we must enforce," Davila said.
"We love Jenna. We embrace diversity. In Miss Universe Canada, we are all from different walks of life."
In a YouTube video interview for the 2010 Miss International Queen transgender/transsexual competition, Talackova said she's known since age 4 that she was a female.
In the interview, the slim, poised contestant smiles and says she views herself as "a woman -- with a history."
She began hormone therapy at age 14 and had reassignment surgery at 19.
Her case has garnered sympathy from some transgender activists.
Blogger Jillian Page wrote that Talackova should be viewed as a female regardless of her background.
"When a woman like Jenna -- and me and others -- transition, the goal is for us to fully integrate into society as women," Page wrote.
"There are no asterisks beside the gender designation on our birth certificates: mine says female. It doesn't say "transgender," it doesn't say "transsexual." It says female. Period!
We are women, and we deserve the same rights all other women in our country have."
With a report from CTV's Winnipeg Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon