Less than two weeks ago, Miss Canada Universe contestant Jenna Talackova went public with her dismissal from the pageant. The Miss Universe Organization refused to allow Talackova to compete because she was not “naturally born” a woman. Talackova enlisted high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred along with a top Canadian lawyer to join her in fighting for the right to compete at the pageant, which runs May 17 to 19.
Yesterday, the organization tentatively reversed their position, issuing this statement: “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.”
Talackova’s fate as a contestant remains in question as she and Allred have taken issue with the organization’s careful wording. Now they are demanding a definitive answer as to her competitive status and calling for organization head Donald Trump “to step up and be a leader in the fight against discrimination.”
See a video of Talackova and Allred’s full statements, plus Trump’s response, below.
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Legal eagle Allred insisted that her client “should never have been judged by what she was or was not like at her birth. She should only have been judged on the basis of who she is now and as anyone with eyes can see, Jenna is a vibrant, beautiful young woman.”
She posited her client as a vanguard for human rights. “[Jenna’s] life story will undoubtedly inspire people throughout the world,” noted Allred. “Her struggles and what she has gone through in her life have given her understanding and wisdom far beyond her years.”
Added Allred, “Mr. Trump needs to step out of his comfort zone. We need a clear answer – not a wimpy, wishy-washy type of answer – but something that we can take to the bank,” then said firmly, “Otherwise, we are considering Jenna’s legal options.”
She concluded, “All that Jenna wants – indeed all she has ever wanted is to compete on the same basis as everyone else. She deserves that chance. We say to Mr. Trump, open your eyes and your heart. Put aside any fears, prejudices, or stereotypes that you may have and see Jenna for who she is – a woman beautiful, strong, and ready to compete. This is an opportunity for Mr. Trump to do the right thing for Jenna and countless others. Mr. Trump, admit that you were wrong and get rid of your trumped up rule.”
For her part, Talackova kept her statement short and to the point. “I am a woman. I was devastated and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust,” she said. “I also want Mr. Trump to clearly state that this rule will be eliminated because I do not want any other woman to suffer the discrimination that I have to endure.”
For his part, Trump seemed to think his organization’s announcement was perfectly clear. He told CNN, “We went by the laws of Canada and the laws of the United States…. So [Talackova] will be entering the Miss Canada Pageant.”