Progress: Miss Universe Pageant Will Likely Allow Canadian Transgender to Compete
The next time Donald Trump says or does something stupid, remember that he also did this solid for transgender rights:
"The Miss Universe Organization will allow Jenna Talackova to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions," the organization said in a brief statement.
The New York-based organization did not specify which other competitions' standards Talackova would have to meet, leaving her entry up in the air ahead of next month's beauty pageant.
Talackova, 23, was born as a male, but has identified as a female since the age of four. She began hormone therapy at 14 and underwent gender reassignment surgery at 19, according to a 2010 interview posted on YouTube.
Trump runs the crew behind Miss Universe. Without being a cardboard libertarian on the issue, let me say that as a private organization, it should be allowed to set its own rules for its competition. And given that beauty pageants are less and less interesting to a world in which gender equality is much farther along than it used to be, it's even a good business decision not to discriminate (that's often, if not always, the case). If anything, I think Miss Universe should be more forthright in accepting whatever ladies want to compete.
The Miss Canada competition will take place in May.
Essential reading on this topic, Reason's 1999 story, "From Donald to Deirdre: How a man became a woman—and what it says about identity." Written by Reason Contributing Editor Deirdre McCloskey, it's excerpted from her brilliant memoir Crossing. A snippet:
On a trip to New York to see a friend after my own crossing I stood in the hall of photographs at Ellis Island and wept at the courage. Crossing cultures from male to female is big; it highlights some of the differences between men and women and some of the similarities too. That's interesting. My crossing was costly and opposed, which is too bad. But my crossing has been dull, easy, and comfortable compared with Suyuan's or Giuseppi's outer migrations.
It's strange to have been a man and now to be a woman. But it's no stranger perhaps than having been a West African and now being an American, or once a priest and now a businessman. Free people keep deciding to make strange crossings, from storekeeper to monk or from civilian to soldier or from man to woman. Crossing boundaries is a minority interest, but human.