Jenna Talackova was a finalist for Miss Universe Canada until she was disqualified Friday because she is transgender. Talackova’s trans status wasn’t a secret – she competed in Miss International Queen, a trans beauty pageant in Thailand. But her gender history became a topic of blog chatter last week, which led to her disqualification:
National director of Miss Universe Canada Denis Davila told the Toronto Star that while they consider Talackova to be a “real girl,” Miss Universe rules stipulate that contestants must be a “naturally born female.”
Huh? I don’t see how a requirement someone be assigned female at birth could not be about undermining Talackova’s female-ness. The fact is, trans women are women. If there’s a contest for women, we should be allowed to participate.
As I argued when Rima Fakih won Miss USA, representation matters. Seeing a trans woman included in a pageant, one of the most normative displays of gender policing, would certainly have an impact in terms of including trans women in the broader group “women.” We can both have a problem with a sexist, objectifying beauty pageant and with the fact that a trans woman is being excluded.
I have to say I am enjoying the fact that a trans woman made it this far through a contest to see who has the most ideal female body. This certainly flies in the face of a lot of assumptions about trans women, like that you can identify us by sight and that we’re all “ugly.” Talackova is doing a great job of matching the normative ideal of feminine beauty (as much as I’m not a fan of this ideal or how it’s valued).
Here’s where you can contact Miss Universe Canada to let them know how you feel about discrimination.