GLAAD announced today that the Miss Universe Organization is close to finalizing an official policy change that will allow women who are transgender to participate in its beauty competitions. It follows more than two weeks of discussions. The new rules still have to be approved by Donald Trump and NBC, who co-own the beauty contest. But let’s face it: this could make ratings soar. Final language on the changed rules is expected in the next few weeks as pageant season begins internationally for the competition. The announcement comes less than a week after Jenna Talackova, a 23-year old Canadian who had a sex change operation four years ago, initially had been disqualified from the 61st Miss Universe Canada pageant after organizers learned that she had once been a he. Talackova’s public pleadings to Trump as well as media attention caused GLAAD to contact the the Miss Universe Organization on March 24th after the news broke. GLAAD called on the Miss Universe Organization to review Talackova’s case, as well as open the competition to transgender women. “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.” Added Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization: “We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.” It now looks as if Talackova will compete this May because Trump recently wished her “the best of luck in her quest for the crown”.
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