Miss Universe Pageant Allowing Transgender Women
NEW YORK (AP) - A rule change that would allow transgender women to participate in the Miss Universe beauty pageant next year is a step forward for equality, advocates said Tuesday after pageant officials announced the policy shift.
Pageant officials said they are working on the language of the official rule policy change but expected final word to come soon. The rules will have to be approved by Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, and NBC. Trump and NBC co-own the contest.
The announcement of the policy change comes a week after the organization decided to allow Jenna Talackova to compete for Canada’s spot in the Miss Universe pageant this year.
Talackova, a Vancouver resident, underwent a sex change four years ago after being born a male. The advocacy group GLAAD called on the Miss Universe Organization to review her case, as well as open the competition to transgender women, after she was disqualified from competing in the Miss Universe Canada contest next month.
"We want to give credit where credit is due, and the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD," said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization. "We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously."
The Miss Universe Organization produces the pageant, as well as the Miss USA and the Miss Teen competitions, according to the organization’s website. The Miss Universe pageant began in 1952 as a local "bathing beauty" contest, headed by California-based Catalina Swimwear, the site says.
Trials for next year’s Miss Universe pageant begin this summer.
"Everybody should be allowed to participate in every aspect of society," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Absolutely it’s good news, it’s another pernicious structural discrimination barrier taken down."
Susan Stryker, director of the Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona, said she hoped to see similar progress in areas that would impact more people - like employment discrimination issues and anti-transgender violence.