Miss Universe Rules Change to Admit Transgender Women

A week after ruling that a 23-year-old trans woman could participate, the pageant has axed a rule that previously barred transgender women

By Sam Schulz
|  Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012  |  Updated 8:30 AM CDT
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The Miss Universe pageant has axed a rule that required its contestants be "naturally born" female, after transgender contestant Jenna Talackova, center, drew attention to the discriminatory rule. Talackova was permitted last week to compete, and now pageant officials are changing the rule entirely.

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Transgender women will be allowed to participate in the Miss Universe beauty pageant next year, officials announced Tuesday, a week after they ruled a trail-blazing 23-year-old could vie for the crown this year.

Pageant officials said they are working on the language of the official rule policy change but expected final word to come soon. Trials for next year's Miss Universe pageant begin this summer.

The move comes five days after the organization said that Jenna Talackova could compete in the Miss Universe pageant this year.

Talackova, a Vancouver resident, underwent a sex change four years ago after being born a male.

Her sex change initially led organizers in Canada to disqualify her from the 61st Miss Universe Canada pageant in May, citing a rule that she must be "naturally born" a woman.

Talackova pleaded with the pageant's leaders to drop the rule.

"I am a woman," Talackova said Tuesday. "I was devastated, and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust. I have never asked for any special consideration. I only wanted to compete."

Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, wished her "the best of luck in her quest for the crown."

The official rules will have to be approved by Trump and NBC, which co-own the contest.

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