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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Transgender Miss Universe contestant takes to the stage for bikini and evening gown rounds at pageant

By Daily Mail Reporter

The Miss Universe Canada pageant saw its first-ever transgender contestant take to the stage last night.

Jenna Talackova, 23, was among 62 other women competing for the coveted crown tonight at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto.

Miss Talackova, from Vancouver, who was born a man but underwent sex-change surgery four years ago, took part in the swimwear and evening gown rounds tonight in front of a panel of 15 judges.

Working it: Transgender contestant Jenna Talackova, 23, takes part in Miss Universe Canada competition in Toronto on Thursday evening

The panel includes designers Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan of HGTV's Home Heist, The Kennedys actress Kristin Booth and singer Kreesha Turner. The winner will be crowned on Saturday.

Ms Talackova, who had sexual reassignment surgery at the age of 19, sparked a heated gender debate in March after she was thrown out of the competition.

She had already reached the finals of the Miss Vancouver pageant before officials stepped in and banned her from the competition for being born male after it was claimed she lied on her application about her natural-born gender.

The only requirement stated on the Miss Universe Canada website is that to enter, women must be a Canadian citizen and between the ages of 18 and 27.

The application form makes no mention of rules regarding sexual reassignment surgery.

Head and shoulders above the competition: Miss Talackova towers over the other contestants in the bikini round this evening

Ladies in red: Jenna leads the parade as the woman enter the competition wearing matching dresses and name sashes in the national colors

LGBT activists claimed the organisation was being discriminatory, and more than 20,000 people signed a virtual petition on Change.org demanding that she be re-instated.

Her case was taken on by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred who is famous for representing clients including a string of Tiger Woods' ex-lovers and Nicole Brown Simpson's family during the O.J. Simpson trial.

Soon after the Trump Organization changed its policy, saying that pageant rules had 'been modernized to ensure this type of issue does not occur again'.

True beauty: Miss Talackova has fought prejudice and discrimination to take part in the contest

Sheer talent: Jenna Talackova's family flew in from Vancouver to support her bid to win the pageant crown

The 6'1" blonde says that she has her family's full support, and 14 relatives flew to Toronto to see her compete last night.

Making her case for the crown, she said the pageant isn't only about outer beauty: 'It’s also a competition of health, fitness and charisma and those are all three things I possess.'



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