After much controversy and a rule change, the first-ever transgendered contestant competed in the Miss Universe Canada pageant in Toronto on Thursday night. Jenna Talackova, 23, is from Vancouver, and though she was born male, she underwent sexual reassignment surgery four years ago and was allowed to compete. According to the Daily Mail, Talackova was one of 62 women who strut their stuff in evening gowns and bikinis on stage for a panel of 15 judges.
Talackova was much taller than the other pageant competitors. Photo by REUTERS/MarkTalakova
Back in March, Talackova was in the finals of the Miss Vancouver competition when pageant officials kicked her out claiming she lied about her natural-born gender on her application. But there were no apparent rules on sex change operations—the only requirements to enter the Miss Universe Canada competition are that contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 27 and have Canadian citizenship. In retaliation, over 20,000 people signed an online petition on Change.org fighting for Talackova’s right to compete.
Talakova enlisted lawyer to the stars Gloria Allred, who has represented Nicole Brown Simpson’s family during the O.J. Simpson trial and Tiger Woods’ scorned partners. It wasn’t long before the Trump Organization backpedaled and updated their contest rules to allow Talackova and any other transgendered women to compete in future pageants.
“This was all very much worth it, more than I could have ever imagined,” Talackova told The Star. “What happened was a negative that has turned into a complete positive.” She feels that despite the discrimination, she has what it takes to be Miss Universe Canada. “It’s also a competition of health, fitness and charisma and those are all three things I possess. Blinch
Talackova is 6’1″ and is studying holistic nutrition in school. While she technically only became a woman at age 19, she says she’s no different than any other young lady. “I have two sides to me. There’s the soft, subtle, calm side,” she told The Star, “and there’s the very glam, diva-ish side. I had to let that side loose a bit.” To show their support 14 members of Talackova’s family flew out to Toronto to watch her compete. We’ll have to wait till Saturday to see who takes home the pageant crown.