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Miss Universe shot for transgender contestant?

  • Jenna Talackova is a transgendered beauty pageant contestant from Canada
  • She is trying to compete in the Miss Universe pageant
  • Isis King and Nazanin Afshin-Jam weigh in on the controversy
Miss Universe shot for transgender contestant?

Jenna Talackova still hasn’t announced whether or not she will compete in the Miss Universe pageant.

The transgendered Canadian contestant was initially kicked out of the competition because it is open only to “naturally born females.” Earlier this week, though, the Miss Universe Organization reversed its decision to allow Talackova back into the running, but according to CNN, the conditions of her re-entry are still unclear.

The controversy has the blogosphere buzzing. As the 23-year-old awaits the final verdict, HLN asked two beauty queens to weigh in. One, a fellow transgendered model, knows just how difficult Talackova’s decision can be. Another, a former Miss World contestant, defends the competition’s standards.

Isis King, first transgendered contestant, “America’s Next Top Model”

"I think it was very unfortunate the way it was brought out, the way the rules were told afterwards and the humiliations she had to go through. By the same token, when you’re the first to go through that type of thing, there’s always humiliation that comes with it and you have to roll with it and realize that you’re making history. The sisters and brothers that come after you, it’ll be easier for them, so it’s a give and take. You’re going to help people, and Jenna knows that, so she’s already on the right track.

I get that it was really hard for her—they completely embarrassed her—and they didn’t have to be so public about it, but at the same time, people are learning and hopefully the rules will change. Her going through with the competition will be another step towards normality for women in transition. I really hope that she decided to do the competition."

For more on her thoughts, follow Isis on Twitter, @MsIsisKing

Nazanin Afshin-Jam, first runner-up, Miss World 2003 

"I would like to know If Ms. Talackova believes that transgender women should be qualified to compete with female competitors in the Olympics? Even though she believes she is a woman psychologically, physically she still has certain advantages of being born a male (height, tone etc ...). Perhaps natural born women would feel like they would be at a disadvantage?

The Miss Universe competition, I believe, has set up certain parameters in choosing a winner (age restriction, having never been married or pregnant). A mother could complain that she is being discriminated against because of being a mother. The good news is that there are thousands of pageants in the world tailored to suit various kinds of people: Mrs. International (for married women), Ms. Petite International (for short women), Mr. Universe (for men), and Miss International Queen (for transgender and transsexual women) etc ... Pageants are a business. It is up those franchise holders to make rules or revisit rules. Perhaps in the future we will see rules change within the pageant industry?"

For more on her thoughts, follow Nazanin on Twitter, @NazaninAJ

What do you think: Should Talackova be allowed to compete for the Miss Universe title? And if so, should she go through with the competition?

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