Jenna Talackova

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Jenna Talackova



Birth - Death

1988 -




A Canadian model and actor, transgender Jenna Talackova fought a ruling that prohibited her from competing in the Miss Universe Canada beauty pageant and won her case. This set new rules for transgender acceptance and rights in such global competitions.

Born as male with the name Walter to a First Nations indigenous family in Vancouver, British Columbia, Talackova experienced gender dysphoria at an early age and expressed her desire to transition to female. At the age of 14 she began living as a girl and taking hormones. At the age of 19 she had gender reassignment surgery. Talackova details how she was mesmerized with her mother’s beauty routine, jewelry, and clothing and wanted to live life in the same way. This attraction to fashion and looks eventually led her to consider modelling and the beauty competition circuit.

Talackova first competed in the 2010 Miss International Queen pageant for transgender and transsexual women held in Thailand. The excitement and thrill of the competition enticed her to continue on. In 2012 she applied to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant with the support of her Lake Babine Nation tribe.

However, someone tipped off the organizers of the competition that Talackova had previously competed as a transgender individual in other competitions. The organizers then withdrew her acceptance on the basis that she was not a naturally born woman. Talackova filed a lawsuit against them and the owner of the Miss Universe beauty pageant, Donald Trump. After significant international press and attention, Trump announced that the rules governing the pageant would be changed to allow transgender individuals to compete. Talackova competed and finished the competition in the top 12 and won the Miss Congeniality award.

This was a major victory for the transgender community. Not only was the case highly publicized around the world, but the rules for a major high-profile international beauty competition had been changed to recognize the inclusion of the transgender community. Talackova’s profile in the media showed a transgender woman that does not differ from any other. She has subsequently become an icon for the rights of the community and has been active ever since.

In 2012, Jenna Talackova was the Grand Parade Marshall for the Pride Parade in her home town of Vancouver. She has starred in her own reality television series Brave New Girl on E! Network. She continues to speak publicly against outmoded definitions of transsexualism. In particular, she has begun to lobby the World Health Organization to change its classification of transsexualism as a mental disorder. In 2012, she launched a petition to advance her cause.

This activism by Jenna Talackova led Time magazine to recognize her as an important individual who influenced American culture in 2013. The change to the rules of Miss Universe Canada has been expanded to all other countries on the basis of fairness, according to the owner Donald Trump.

Talackova laments the fact that she had no transgender role models when she was growing up. She is determined to change that for the next generation through her own activism and life messages. In this effort, she is joined by a large number of internationally known transgender activists such as actor Laverne Cox, tennis player Renee Richards, boxer Fallon Fox, model Carmen Carrera, and businesswoman Amanda Simpson.

Public opinion was solidly on the side for change and allowing transgender individuals to compete in any type of competition on an equal basis with all others. This is the case for all professions – sports, business, entertainment, etc. The principal concern of those who object centres on the issue as to whether a transgender individual has an advantage over others given that they have received medical assistance. However, there is no medical support for the argument that sex-change medicine transfers any type of physical advantage, whether in terms of beauty or strength.

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