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Transgender contestants to be allowed in Miss Universe pageants

Transgender contestants to be allowed in Miss Universe pageants

Amid a wave of negative publicity surrounding its temporary banning of transgender Miss Universe Canada finalist Jenna Talackova, the Miss Universe Organization is close to finalizing an official policy change that allows transgender  women to participate in all of its competitions.

The policy change will be in place for the start of this fall’s 2013 pageant season, a time when most of the competitions around the world begin to take place.

Talackova was originally ousted from Miss Universe Canada after it was discovered she had been born a man. Following protests, was later allowed back to the competition, which is owned by Donald Trump.

Despite this, Talackova and her attorney, Gloria Allred, held a press conference last week and threatened legal action unless the rule that only naturally-born women will be allowed to compete will be eliminated.

Talackova, who had said last week she wasn't sure if she even wanted to participate anymore, announced on Monday (9 April) that she would be competing in Miss Universe Canada next month in Toronto.

Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, thanked the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for its assistance in the policy change and went out of her way to not give any of the credit to Talackova or Allred.

'We want to give credit where credit is due,' Shugart said. '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.'

GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick said of Trump and the Miss Universe organization: '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.'

Graddick added: 'Jenna and all of the LGBT advocates who have called for this change and spoken out in support of transgender women are to be commended. At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today’s decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country.'