Jenna Talackova Disqualified From Miss Universe For Being Transgender
Society is, without doubt, becoming more open to diversity. However, in light of California’s Proposition 8 and the Travyon Martin case, this statement may not feel accurate. Not long ago, homosexuality was not an accepted lifestyle and racism was deeply embedded in people’s minds. These are just two examples of virulent social norms that are finally being challenged. The truth is that while we’ve indeed made strides, we still have a long way to go, as evidenced by the following:
Today, Jenna Talackova was disqualified as a candidate from the Miss Universe Canada competition. This beautiful 23-year old was disqualified because she was born male, which goes against the pageant’s rules that contestants must be born female.
After discussing this with a few of my friends, I was taken aback by some of their comments, but I could understand their argument. The guys mainly argued that they thought it’d be weird to look at Talackova because “she was once a he.” They continued, “that would make me seem gay if I thought she was hot.” Yes, I can see why that would make them uncomfortable as boys. Always wanting to prove their manliness, being attracted to a transgender beauty pageant contestant could cause some inner conflict.
Besides this point made by my friend, some have argued that the beauty pageant was only following the rules. It is, apparently, clearly stated in the pageant rules that contestants must be born female. Talackova would not have been accepted as a contestant had she not written on the application that she is female.
I will admit that I can see the argument supporting the Miss Universe competition’s decision. But here’s what I have to say.
Imagine what Jenna Talackova has been through. At age four Talackova realized she was not born the right gender. She started hormone therapy at age fourteen and had sexual reassignment surgery at age nineteen.
Take a moment to think about what that would feel like. You’re you, but you look like a boy. On the surface, you can’t do your hair the way you’d like, you can’t wear what you want. Those cute platform wedges from Steve Madden? You can’t wear those. On the inside you have a crush on that guy in your French class but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t flirt with him or give him your number. No, that wouldn’t be socially acceptable.
So you give yourself the gift you’ve always wanted. You change your appearance so you can finally look like the person you are on the inside: a beautiful young woman. But that’s not okay, either. That makes people uncomfortable so you have to be uncomfortable as you go through life either trapped in a man’s body or dealing with the stares and isolation.
It’s kind of different when you’re the one dealing with this situation, isn’t it?
I don’t know about you but I would never choose that for myself. Life, being a girl, society’s pressure, is difficult and emotionally traumatizing enough. Transgender people did not choose to be born a different gender, but they’re doing the best they can to give themselves some piece of the lives they should have been born with. The least we can do is help them out a bit by being accepting and understanding of their situations.
With all these exceptions to my statement that the world is moving in a more accepting direction, many people will argue that the world is forever stuck in a state of close-mindedness. To that, I say, we’ll get there eventually. This may seem naive but I believe that every day we move closer and closer towards a world in which we’re all just people, not defined by our skin color, “insides” or sexuality.
What do you think?
Ashley is a freshman at George Washington University and she’s majoring in “Overanalyzing Situations” and International Affairs. Follow her on twitter @ashleybrooks25