By Jeremy Kinser
Originally published on Advocate.com May 20 2012 7:43 PM ET
Jenna Talackova, the first-ever transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, made it to the top 12 finalists and became one of four women who shared the title of Miss Congeniality, reports People magazine.
Talackova, 23, was initially disqualified from competing for not being a “naturally born female.” After coaxing from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and a petition signed by 30,000 people, Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, subsequently overruled that decision and allowed Talackova to compete with 61 contestants.
Gloria Allred, Talackova's high-profile attorney, released a statement, saying, "She's still a winner as far as I'm concerned. She won an 'herstoric' civil rights victory and that I think is frankly more important than anything, any victory she would win, even representing Miss Canada."
Miss Universe publicity director Brenda Mendoza has said transgender competitors are now welcome in all of its pageants around the world, but says it will be left to the individual franchises to determine if the recent policy change is carried out.
The pageant was held Saturday night in Toronto. Sahar Biniaz was crowned Miss Universe Canada.