(The Guardian) The Miss Universe pageant is changing its rules to allow transgender women to take part in all of its competitions starting in 2013, the organisation and gay rightsgroup Glaad has announced.The decision follows a media outcry over the disqualification of Canadian contestant Jenna Talackova from the Miss Universe Canada contest because she was not a “naturally born female”.
Talackova 23, who underwent gender reassignment surgery when she was 19, was reinstated to the competition last week by Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe organisation. Talackova has a Canadian passport, driver’s licence and other documents that identify her as a woman.
Following consultations with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Glaad), Miss Universe “discussed a policy change that includes transgender women in time for the start of this fall’s 2013 pageant season, a time when most of the competitions around the world begin to take place,” the two groups said in a joint statement.
The change brings Miss Universe into line with other groups that have taken a stand against discrimination against transgender women, including the Olympics, the Girl Scouts of America and the TV show America’s Next Top Model, Glaad said.
“We have a long history of supporting equality for all women and this was something we took very seriously,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organisation.
The exact language of the new rule was still being worked out, officials said.
National pageants are currently being held around the world to chose contestants to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe contest, to be held later this year.
The transgendered contestant had already successfully reached the finals in the Miss Vancouver pageant before she was banned from continuing in the competition.
Although the pageant organizers described Talackova as a “real girl” they disqualified her arguing that the rules state that each contestant must be a “naturally born female.”
Talackova began hormone therapy at 14 and underwent sexual reassignment surgery at 19.
She was listed on the official Miss Universe Canada website as a contestant until it was discovered that she was transgender. The organisation removed her profile.
“I’m disqualified, however I’m not giving up,” tweeted Talackova, who later locked her Twitter account.
“I’m not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination.”
She added that she had been “disqualified for being born.”.
Denis Davila, national director of Miss Universe Canada, said Talackova claimed on her registration form she was born a female.
Davila became suspicious and confronted Talackova about her sex change and the contestant admitted she was born a male.
“She feels like a real girl and she is a real girl. She didn’t expect people to question it,” Davila website thestar.
“She was hoping we could put her back in the competition, but the rules are very clear and there’s no way we can go back on it.”
The decision from the Miss Universe Canada pageant sparked outrage with people calling for Talackova to be reinstated into the contest.
People took to social media pages to express their disgust with one Facebook user writing on the pageant’s page: “Tell us what ‘requirements’ did she not make? This reeks of discrimination…”
In a YouTube interview Talackova says she knew she was a female at the age of four and began hormone therapy ten years later. She has competed in transgender pageants before.
“I regard myself as a woman with a history,” Talackova says winking to the camera in the video.
A statement from Miss Universe Canada read: “Jenna Talackova from Vancouver, British Columbia will not compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada competition because she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form.
“We do, however, respect her goals, determination and wish her the best.”
Watch video here – Talackova appears at 8.12 minutes in
There’s an excellent post by Juliet Jacques on today’s New Statesman website:
Whatever the long-term results of the Leveson inquiry, one appearance may prove a turning point for an increasingly visible and (hopefully) decreasingly vulnerable population. When Helen Belcher presented Trans Media Watch‘s submission last week, explaining the largely negative practices and consequences behind more than a hundred news items about transgender (but mainly transsexual) people, it felt like a turning point for a group no longer prepared to tolerate the media intruding into — and sensationalising — their personal histories.
(This is Derbyshire) A MOTHER whose daughter claimed she was bullied for being transgender has vowed to overcome prejudice by educating teenagers about the issue.
Hannah Whetton, 18, was born a boy called Arron but always felt she was a female trapped in the wrong body, so started a new life as a woman.
But she said she has since suffered bullying and has decided to quit her course in animal care at the Broomfield Hall campus of Derby College as soon as she can find a job.
Now her mum, Carol McNellis, says young people’s lack of knowledge about the subject must be tackled.
She has already arranged for a volunteer from local charity Derbyshire Friend, which supports the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, to speak at Broomfield.
Now she is hoping to work with the charity on a more widespread campaign.
The 46-year-old said: “There’s nothing in schools teaching kids about people who are transgender.
“I think if they understood the issue, then it would be far more widely accepted.
“I’m going to see if I can do something about it.”
Her efforts have been given the backing of Broomfield’s Eileen Swan, who is head of the faculty.
She confirmed that Derbyshire Friend would be giving a talk at the college in January and said: “The family’s proposals are an excellent idea.
“My experience is that the vast majority of young people in particular are very accepting of their peers who are transgender.”
The Government recently published new proposals to increase education in colleges about transgender issues but is yet to announce details.
The talk at Broomfield will be given by Beth Seymour, a transgender woman who works as a development officer at Derbyshire Friend.
She said she was waiting to see whether the Government would make money available in Derbyshire.
She said: “If we had more funding we’d try to get into schools. It’s a case of one step at a time.”
Hannah, of Aston Close, Chellaston, is hoping that eventually she will be able to support her mum’s efforts.
She said: “When I’m happy with myself, I want to go into schools and talk about my experiences.
“I know I’ve got the confidence to do it.”
Hannah said she had suffered verbal abuse, with peers asking whether she was a man or a woman.
She said: “They would call me ‘it’.
“One day I was sitting in the classroom and everyone was staring at me like I was in a freak show. I got up and left.”
Carol said: “The college was very good about it and dealt with it very quickly. ”
Ms Swan confirmed the matter had been dealt with.
She said: “The one incident that happened earlier this year was quickly sorted simply by explaining the situation to the students involved and, once they understood the facts, they really respected Hannah for making the brave decision and recognised the difficulties that she faced.”