Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman who was born male, may be allowed to take part in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant after all after initially being disqualified last month, a move that had spurred an online backlash.
The Beauties of Canada, which hosts the national contest that selects a candidate for Donald Trump's international Miss Universe competition, listed several conditions for the 23-year-old Vancouver resident's reinstatement, but has not clarified whether or not she meets them. The 61st annual Miss Universe Canada Pageant will be held in Toronto on May 19.
"The Miss Universe Organization will allow Jenna Talackova to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions," The Beauties of Canada said in a statement.
Representatives for the Beauties of Canada and the Miss Universe Organization had no immediate comment about whether Talackova, who had gender reassignment surgery at age 19, will be allowed to compete in the national pageant for sure and what spurred the decision to reinstate her.
Her disqualification spurred an online petition and a slew of angry comments online, especially on the Facebook page of the Miss Universe Canada Pageant. Its online editors have been posting news about the controversy, as has Davila. Scores of people in and outside the LGBT community said the disqualification marked discrimination, while he has said the group has to follow its rules.
She has not commented and plans to hold a previously-scheduled press conference on Tuesday, April 3 with famed celebrity case lawyer Gloria Allred.
Miss Universe Canada's national director, Denis Davila, had told CTV Canada last month that one of his group's rules says that a contestant "has to be a naturally-born female" and that Talackova was "dishonest" on her application by claiming that she was. She admitted she was born a male after an organizer became suspicious and confronted her about it.
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 and that she had started taking hormones to transform into a woman physically when she was 14, five years before she went under the knife.