UPDATE: As of April 2, 2012 the Trump Organization has reversed its decision and will allow Jenna Talackova to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant.
Jenna Talackova “knew” she was a girl at age 4, even though she was in a boy’s body. By the age of 19, she’d undergone gender reassignment surgery. Shortly afterward she began competing in beauty pageants for transgendered individuals. Her goal has been to go beyond trans pageants, and she found herself representing Vancouver and about to compete for the title of Miss Universe Canada…..that is, until she was disqualified…
Various reports on Ms. Talackova’s disqualification have raised the question of whether or not she should have been disqualified because she is transgendered. The reason for the disqualification, however, is somewhat more complicated. The Miss Universe Pageant–a franchise owned by Donald Trump–in its rules states specifically that a contestant must be naturally born female. According to a pageant representative–shown in this CTV report–Ms. Talackova misrepresented herself and was thus disqualified from the pageant.
Ms. Talackova is searching for legal representation and is seeking to file a discrimination suit against the pageant.
While there appears to be sentiment favoring Ms. Talackova, the reports I’ve seen do not show anyone who may not care if Ms. Talackova is transgendered, but also may feel that she violated the rules of the Miss Universe Pageant.
It makes me wonder if there are other rules–such as those governing excessive facial plastic surgery or specifically breast implants–that might disqualify a naturally born contenstant. Does the standard of “natural born female” apply only to those who have not had surgery to change their gender? It would seem to me that these are important questions. If a biological female can dramatically alter her appearance with plastic surgery, does that make her then *not* a natural born beauty, even though she is a female? And might that also be a consideration when we consider beauty….
In our new century, the idea of “beauty” for some, has more to do with art and artifice, in the altering of oneself with cosmetics, fake hair, teeth wihitening, and padded bras. For some, it goes as far as to have surgery, thus correcting and making “beautiful” what might have been considered plain or ordinary by some arbitrary and mostly subjective standard.
Pageants themselves are artificial and, IMO, ridiculous. What is their true point and purpose except to give some women an advantage over others based on how well they can alter their physical appearance and present the image of ideal feminine beauty.
Do we really need these kinds of ideals anymore? Do we really need young women competing for scholarships based not necessarily on their intelligence but on their physical appearance and some semblance of talent (usually a talent that is associated with upper economic classes.) Or are beauty pageants and their scholarships the equivalent of the football scholarships for young men?
But back to Ms. Talackova’s dilemma. Is it really discrimination or just a matter of her violating the rules and misrepresenting herself? And what of the natural born female contestants and radical plastic surgery? If a female who has undergone radical plastic surgery–along the lines of, say, a Heidi Montag level of surgery–would she still be allowed to compete? If so, what does that say about female beauty? that it is best when it is altered by a surgeon’s knife than when it is natural?
If the pageant allows for radical surgery on natural born women, then it seems to me that radical surgery to appear and become exactly like a natural born woman, both inside and out, would make it possible for a transgendered person to compete in a non-trans beauty pageant.
And then it should make us question not just the idea of pageants overall, but how skewed the pageant industry has become on the issue of “natural” born and beautiful female.
Just my $.02