Miss Universe organization will change policy to allow transgender contestants

GLAAD and the Miss Universe Organization announced Tuesday that the pageant will change its overall policy to allow transgender women to compete. The larger change comes after the Miss Universe Organization, which is owned by Donald Trump, said it would allow Miss Canada Universe contestant, Jenna Talackova, to participate, “provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions.” Talackova had threatened legal action against the organization when they initially denied her entry.

“For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender,” GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick said in a statement. “We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately. The Miss Universe Organization today follows institutions that have taken a stand against discrimination of transgender women including the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and The CW’s America’s Next Top Model.”

However, Talackova’s attorney Gloria Allred claims that the ruling doesn’t go far enough because she suspects it only applies to American and Canadian contestants. “Trump has conceded that he can’t keep Jenna out of the competition because it would violate both U.S. and Canadian laws,” she says. “Trump’s rule of requirement that a contestant be a naturally-born female seems to still be in effect in other countries around the world. We want Mr. Trump to eliminate this rule for the entire Miss Universe organization, but he has not agreed to do so. The rule is blatantly discriminatory and it is time to get rid of it — not just in the United States and Canada but around the world.”

Miss Universe president Paula Shugart said that Talackova’s legal threats were not part of the decision. “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 and not Jenna’s legal representation, which if anything delayed the process. We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”

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