Donald Trump’s Miss Universe Organisation is tipping its tiara to the country’s leading gay rights group and promising a worldwide policy change allowing transgender contestants. The new policy, which is close to being finalised, comes after more than two weeks of negotiations between the international pageant and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), both sides said in a joint statement.
The clash of the sash started when Canadian finalist Jenna Talackova was disqualified in March because she allegedly lied about her gender on her entry form. The leggy 23-year-old model, who was born male but had a sex change operation four years ago, later teamed with civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred and publicly criticised Trump for not taking a firm stand against discrimination.
The Miss Universe Organisation said last week it would allow Talackova to compete and that it was re-evaluating its rules going forward. It has since committed to a policy change in time for the start of the 2013 pageant season this summer, a GLAAD spokesman said. “For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organisation and Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender,” GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick said in a statement.
“We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately.” Graddick likened the new policy to similar stands taken by the Olympics and the Girl Scouts of America. “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 and not Jenna’s legal representation, which if anything delayed the process,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organisation.
Talackova said last week she was “devastated” by her disqualification and didn’t want other transgender women to suffer the same fate. In an appearance, Talackova said she knew she was “in the wrong body” when she was just four-years-old.
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The Miss Universe rules states that all competitors should be ‘naturally born female’, which automatically rules out all transgendered participants