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Trump's Miss Universe Pageant, GLAAD Announce Inclusion of Transgender Women in Beauty Competitions

The organization is in the process of changing its policies after Jenna Talackova was disqualified from competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada.
Jenna Talackova
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After more than two weeks of discussions, GLAAD and the Miss Universe Organization announced on Tuesday that transgender woman will now be allowed to compete for the crown in its beauty competitions.

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The Donald Trump-owned organization is close to finalizing a new policy after news broke on March 24 that Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman, had been disqualified. Trump and his organization announced last week that Jenna would be welcome to return and compete, after GLAAD reached out to review her case. Now, the competition will be open to all transgender women beginning at the start of this fall’s 2013 pageant season.

“For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender,” said GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick. “We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately. The Miss Universe Organization today follows institutions that have taken a stand against discrimination of transgender women including the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and The CW’s America’s Next Top Model. Jenna and all of the LGBT advocates who have called for this change and spoken out in support of transgender women are to be commended. At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today’s decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country.”

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The case of Jenna Talackova made news after Gloria Allred became publicly involved, but according to Miss Universe president Paula Shugart, credit for the policy change must be given elsewhere.

“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,” she said. “We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”

The watchdog group also announced on Tuesday that former Dancing With the Stars contestant Chaz Bono will be honored with the Stephen F. Kolzak award at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 21. Bono is the first transgender man to receive a Special Honor at the awards ceremony.

E-mail: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci

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