Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman, who was born male, has been disqualified from competing in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada beauty pageant and some people, including her, say the move marks discrimination.
The ousting of the 23-year-old Vancouver resident was announced on Friday and spurred an online petition that is calling on the Miss Universe Organization, owned by Donald Trump, to reverse its decision. Talackova was among the Beauties of Canada's 65 finalists competing for the chance to represent the country in the international Miss Universe pageant.
"One of [the rules] is that she has to be a naturally-born female," Miss Universe Canada's national director, Denis Davila, told CTV Canada.
"I am very disappointed with the decision taken by the Miss Universe organizers," Talackova said in a statement carried by CTV. "However, I will look to turn this situation into a positive so that other people in a similar situation are not discriminated against in the future."
As of Tuesday morning, more than 30,760 people have signed the online petition at change.org, whose landing page states that her disqualification is "discriminatory, unjust, and quite frankly disgusting" and calls on organizers to allow her to compete. Scores of people have made their opinion about the disqualification on the Facebook page of Miss Universe Canada.
"How dare you discriminate against someone for being biologically born into a gender they could not identify with," said user Jessee Deininger. "Jenna is a woman, plain and simple. Your company disgusts me."
Others defended the ousting. User Wil Cheung said: "I applaud the organization's decision. This person who entered knew the rules and decided to politicize the event for her benefit. If she doesn't like the rules, she can feel free to make a contest that fits her social category."
CTV said Talackova had claimed she was born a female on her application, but that an organizer grew suspicious and confronted her about it. It said she admitted last week that she had been born a boy and was then disqualified.
"There is no discrimination here at all," Davila told the outlet. "You can look at it the way she wants to look at it ... but we all have to follow the same rules."
Talackova competed in the Miss International Queen contest, a beauty pageant for transvestite and transgender contestants, in 2010 in Thailand. She made it to the finals but lost to Mini Han from South Korea.
Talackova told the local newspaper The Pattaya Mail in a video interview that she "always knew" she was a female at age 4. The contestant, who sported blonde hair and showcased her cleavage in a tight dress, added that she had gone under the knife to remove her male genitals.
"I started my therapy and hormone therapy when I was 14," she said. "Then I went through with the surgery when I was 19."