Yesterday we addressed the news story about Jenna Talackova, Canadian finalist for the 2012 Miss Universe competition, who was disqualified for being transgender. The main response we received in defense of her right to compete was that, well, she's gorgeous. Her ability to defy most common thought of a man becoming a woman helped her get as far as she did in the competition before being background-checked, I suppose. But she's not the only transgendered female competing in beauty contests. There are a handful of transgender-oriented pageants all over the world aiming to glorify the beauty of these individuals, but after looking at the spread, it's easy to see why Talackova took the risk she did to reach for the stars.
Miss International Queen, not to be confused with Miss International, is the largest transgender and transvestite pageant in the world. It's held annually in Thailand, and its contenders are nothing to sneeze at. It goes to show these ladies aren't just looking to be accepted anymore, they're competing to be the best. They are, to anyone who might meet them, definitely beautiful women. So why the emphasis on their transsexuality? Perhaps it's because no one else will let them compete. Regardless, the inclusion of transvestites in the pageant does turn it into a bit of a drag show. The costume portion of the competition begins to err on the side of Vegas showgirls, and it becomes clear that the Miss International Queen pageant is an organization designed to glorify this population of people, which is reactionary. We wouldn't have to make the point of glorifying their differences if they were just accepted by the whole of society. It's a fine line, but Jenna Talackova obviously wanted to be seen as the beautiful woman she was born to be, not a strikingly beautiful transgendered female. [via]
Miss Continental is a beauty pageant for transgendered women that started in 1980 and is still going on today. It's held at the Baton Show Lounge in Chicago each September, and is heavy on costumes and theatrics. It's probably an incredible show to watch, but definitely glorifies LGBT cultural mores and leans in the direction of drag. While those of us with open minds might find a show like this appealing, it's just not the same as someone flat-out accepting the contestants as women. [via]
The World's Most Beautiful Transsexual Contest was a pageant held in 2004 in Las Vegas. It included 35 pre-op and post-op transgendered women and aimed to find the most beautiful transgendered woman in America. The winner was showgirl Mimi Marks, a previous winner of Miss Continental and Miss International Queen. You can see how this is just a totally different kind of competition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of your journey, but for someone like Jenna Talackova, this just might not be what she had in mind. [via]
There is a wide range of thought on this issue. On one hand, a reader points out, "I don't get why it would matter, a lot of contestants are plastic always, what difference does it make?" It's true. The Miss Universe pageant doesn't object to changing one's body for an edge on the competition. That is unless it's her genitalia that were surgically altered. Some might say it's just the law — she was born a male, end of story. And rules are rules. A person born outside the United States, for example, no matter how qualified, can't run for president. We aren't all entitled to being Miss Universe. But the fact that the only qualification she failed to meet was that of her chromosomes does seem a little unfair.
The bottom line is that she's interested in pageants. She wanted to be seen as a real contender, free of her reassignment surgery. It seems that society is stuck: If a pageant accepts transgendered women, then it becomes a transgendered pageant.
Is this something that needs to be reformed? Do you think Jenna Talackova was right to withhold the truth during the competition?