Miss Universe allows transgender contestant back into competition

Story highlights

  • Organizers say Talackova can participate if she meets certain requirements
  • The organizers did not elaborate on them
  • Earlier, they said she could not compete because was not a "naturally born female"
  • Talackova underwent gender reassignment surgery at 19
After initially disqualifying a transgender contestant, organizers of the Miss Universe beauty pageant has reversed course saying she can participate.
In a statement late Monday night, the Miss Universe Organization said Jenna Talackova can compete provided "she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions."
The statement, however, did not elaborate on what the requirements were.
The news came a day before Talackova was expected to hold a news conference with high-profile feminist lawyer to talk about her experience.
Until now she hasn't spoken to reporters, and it was unclear whether the news conference Tuesday will proceed as planned.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, commended the pageant organizer's decision Monday night.
"The Miss Universe Organization made the right decision and has taken an important first step," the group said in a statement.
Talackova was one of the 65 finalists selected to contend for the title of Miss Universe Canada and the honor of representing her country in the Miss Universe competition.
But organizers told her last month she could not compete because she lied about having undergone sexual reassignment surgery and did not meet requirements for the pageant.
At the time, the Miss Universe Organization said current rules state that all contestants must be a "naturally born female."
In a 2010 interview in Thailand, where she was competing for Miss International Queen, a competition for transgender women, Talackova, 23, said she knew she was a girl at age 4. She said she started hormone therapy at age 14 and underwent sexual reassignment surgery at 19.
Following Talackova's disqualification, social media users flooded the Facebook page of Miss Universe Canada with comments criticizing the decision.
A petition started on the social change website Change.org garnered more than 41,000 signatures calling for organizers to reverse their ruling.
The 61st annual Miss Universe Canada Pageant will be held in Toronto on May 19.