Miss Universe allows transgender contestant back into competition

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Organisers of the Miss Universe Pageant has reversed their decision to remove a transgender contestant form the pageant. A statement was issued late Monday night, in which the Miss Universe Organization said Jenna Talackova can compete provided "she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions."

The news came a day before Talackova was expected to hold a news conference with high-profile feminist lawyer Gloria Allred to talk about her experience. She has not spoken to reporters and it is still unclear whether or not the news conference will be held.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD was very pleased with the decision taken by the pageant organisers, "The Miss Universe Organization made the right decision and has taken an important first step," the group said in a statement.

Talackova was one of the 65 finalists selected to contend for the title of Miss Universe Canada and the honor of representing her country in the Miss Universe competition. However last month the organisers found out that she had lied about undergoing a sexual reassignment surgery and told her she could no longer compete.

At the time, the Miss Universe Organization said current rules state that all contestants must be a "naturally born female."

In a 2010 interview in Thailand, where she was competing for Miss International Queen, a competition for transgender women, Talackova, 23, said she knew she was a girl at age 4. She said she started hormone therapy at age 14 and underwent sexual reassignment surgery at 19.

After Talackova's disqualification, social media users flooded Miss Universe Canada's Facebook page with comments criticizing the decision. A petition was then started on the social change website Change.org and it garnered more than 41,000 signatures calling for organizers to reverse their ruling.

The 61st annual Miss Universe Canada Pageant will be held in Toronto on May 19.

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