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Video: Trump: Transgender beauty contestant can compete

  1. Closed captioning of: Trump: Transgender beauty contestant can compete

    >> that donald trump backs down. but following an outcry, he's decided to lift the ban on a transgender woman from entering his miss universe competition. well, nbc's mike taibbi has the latest. mike, good morning.

    >> good morning, ann. well this dust-up over whether a transgender beauty queen can compete for one of the pageant world's top prizes is generating lots of publicity. no problem for donald trump , of course. but for jenna talackova's west coast lawyer. she is 6'1", statuesque and striking and until recently competed in transgender beauty pageants . 23-year-old jenna talackova, a canadian, told a reporter for the pageant that she knew from the time she could think that she was not the male she was at birth.

    >> i always knew since i was about like 4.

    >> really?

    >> and i started my therapy and hormone therapy when i was 14. and then i went through with the surgery when i was 19.

    >> reporter: it was sex reassignment surgery and her passport lists her sex as female. but talackova was disqualified from the upcoming miss universe canada pageant because she was not a natural-born female despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. an online petition drive by her supporters garnered 20,000 signatures and yesterday donald trump 's miss universe organization said she can compete provided she meet the legal gender recognition requirements of canada and the standards of other international competitions.

    >> we need a clear answer. not a wimpy, wish washy type of answer.

    >> reporter: later to tmz trump said it clearly.

    >> we go by the law and based on the laws she's able to compete if she wants to.

    >> reporter: trump has been center stage in other pageant controversies.

    >> she made some very, very bad choices.

    >> reporter: giving a second chance to 2006 miss usa tara conner , after she became embroiled in a cocaine and underage drinking scandal. and that created trump's epic battle with rosie o 'donnell. on "the view."

    >> there he is with the hair going, rosie --

    >> reporter: and trump on " access hollywood ."

    >> rosie's been a loser for a long time.

    >> reporter: and trump harshly criticized 2009 miss usa runner-up. now it's jenna talackova, the first transgender to go for the miss universe crown.

    >> letting people know that she is proud of being transgendered, and certainly, i think, makes her a pioneer.

    >> reporter: as for jenna --

    >> i have never asked for any special consideration. i only want to compete.

    >> reporter: we should note that the misuniverse pageant is a joint venture between donald trump and nbc universal . the canadian miss universe entry will be chosen at a pageant in may. trump says all this publicity has ramped up demand for tickets and his words know, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. big surprise there.

    >> that's right. all right mike

TODAY contributor
updated 4/3/2012 5:30:28 PM ET 2012-04-03T21:30:28

After initially being barred from participating in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, transgender contestant Jenna Talackova criticized event owner Donald Trump at a news conference Tuesday by saying her gender at birth should not be an issue.

In a statement read by her attorney, Gloria Allred, at a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Talackova criticized the decision of Trump and the event organizers to initially not allow her to participate.

The Miss Universe Organization reversed its stance on Monday, announcing that it would allow her to compete in this year’s Miss Universe Canada pageant if she can meet the legal requirements for being a woman in Canada.

“Jenna entered this competition and gave the pageant her time, her best efforts and her money," Allred said.

Slideshow: Slideshow: Beauty queen scandals (on this page)

"She did not think for one moment that what she might have looked like at birth would be relevant. She did not ask Mr. Trump to prove that he is a naturally-born man, or to see the photos of his birth, to view his anatomy, to prove that he was male. It made no difference to her. Why should it have made a difference to him?"

Talackova, 23, a Vancouver resident, did not confirm during the press conference whether she will be participating, and urged Trump to use this situation to send a message against discrimination. After initially being removed from the competition she tweeted that she was “disqualified for being born.’’

Competing in the Miss Universe Canada pageant may require her to produce medical documents to prove she is a woman under the legal requirements of Canada.

Christophe Archambault  /  AFP - Getty Images
Jenna Talackova, 23, has identified as a female since she was four years old after being born male. She underwent hormone therapy at 14 and gender reassignment surgery five years later. This November 19, 2010 file photo shows her backstage at the Miss International Queen 2010 transexual beauty pageant in Thailand.

Proving she is a woman under the law in Canada could be tricky because requirements vary by Canadian province and may force her to produce medical certificates and legal affidavits from doctors, according to a report by The Vancouver Sun. In addition to meeting the standards of the province of Ontario, because the Miss Universe Canada will be held next month in Toronto, Talackova could also have to meet standards set by organizers at other international competitions. For instance, being a "naturally born female,'' is a rule for the Miss U.S. International competition, according to the report by The Sun.

“We are asking Mr. Trump to step up and be a leader in the fight against discrimination, or would he prefer to hide behind other organizations and say that if they discriminate so can he?’’ Allred said.

Slideshow: Slideshow: Miss Universe 2011 (on this page)

Allred hinted at a possible lawsuit against the event organizers and said that legal teams have been formed for Talackova in Canada, New York and California.

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“Mr. Trump's statement fails to state that the rule that only naturally-born women will be allowed to compete will be eliminated," Allred said. "Otherwise, we are considering all of Jenna's legal options."

Transgender beauty queen allowed to compete in Canada

Talackova has identified as a female since she was four years old after being born male. She underwent hormone therapy at 14 and gender reassignment surgery five years later. In 2010, she competed in the Miss International Queen competition for transgender and transsexual people.

"I will look to turn this situation into a positive so that other people in a similar situation are not discriminated against in the future,’’ Talackova said in a previously released statement.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Beauty queen scandals

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  1. Miss Delaware Teen USA

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Melissa King, Miss Delaware Teen USA, resigned her crown on Feb. 26, 2013, after a sex video featuring a woman resembling her surfaced online. (@Melissa_M_King\Twitter) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Called Miss USA 'rigged'

    After Miss Pennsylvania 2012, Sheena Monnin, spoke out on Facebook against the Miss Universe organization in June, calling it "trashy" and "rigged," co-owner Donald Trump threatened a lawsuit. (Miss Universe Organization) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Facing DUI charges

    Former Miss USA Rima Fakih, pictured here on April 11, 2012 as she faces DUI charges in district court in Highland Park, Mich. Fakih pleaded no contest in the case, and on May 9 she was sentenced to probation and community service for driving under the influence and getting pulled over with an open Champagne bottle in her car. (AP, Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A transgender Miss Universe?

    Jenna Talackova, a transgender beauty queen, protested the decision by pageant representatives to drop her from the Miss Universe Canada competition. She was finally given the green light to go by the Donald Trump-led Miss Universe Organization. The 23-year-old will, however, need to prove that she meets the "legal gender recognition requirements of Canada," according to local media. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Miss California 1992

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Miss California 1992 Shannon Marketic, center, was accused of stealing almost $90 in beauty products from a Target store in August 2010. Marketic, 38, denies stealing the items and says they rolled in the cart and landed underneath her purse. (AP, Denton Police Department) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Former Miss California USA 2009

    Hosts Billy Bush and Nadine Velazquez listen as Miss California Carrie Prejean makes her highly publicized answer to a question from judge Perez Hilton about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas on April 19, 2009. The controversy grew in ensuing weeks when Prejean became the spokesperson for a national group opposing same-sex unions, after which racy photos of her surfaced. Prejean blamed people opposing her views for the release of the photos. She eventually surrendered her crown after pageant officials accused her of missing events, an allegation she denied. (Eric Jamison / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Miss Universe 2008

    Crowned Miss Universe in July 2008, Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza kept her crown despite risque photos that showed the beauty queen topless, though covering most of her chest. The Miss Universe president said that Mendoza’s photographs had "artistic beauty." (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Miss Washington 2008

    Elyse Umemoto, Miss Washington and second runner-up in this year's Miss America pageant, was shown flipping off the camera while wearing her crown, playing beer pong, posing in her bra and making suggestive hand signs on TMZ.com. (Jacob Andrzejczak / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Miss South Florida Fair 2008

    Jessica Wittenbrink, who was crowned Miss South Florida Fair 2008, says her evening gown was smeared with lipstick during the competition. (Uma Sanghvi / Palm Beach Post via Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Miss Puerto Rico 2007

    Ingrid Marie Rivera smiles during a beauty pageant in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said. (Ricardo Daz Serrano / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Miss New Jersey 2007

    Amy Polumbo was crowned Miss New Jersey 2007. An anonymous person threatened to reveal "scandalous" photos of the beauty queen, but Polumbo refused to cave in to the blackmail. She took the incident public and revealed the photos herself on TODAY. (Donald B. Kravitz / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Miss USA 2006

    Tara Conner, representing Kentucky, won the Miss USA title in 2006 and moved to New York City where she partied in clubs and drank despite being underage. Donald Trump gave her a reprieve, allowing her to retain the title after she agreed to enter rehab and undergo drug testing. (Chris Gardner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Miss South Carolina Teen USA

    Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina, became a Internet sensation with her nonsensical answer to a question during the Miss Teen USA competition in August 2007. The 18-year-old got a chance to redeem herself on TODAY when she was again asked why one-fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a map. (Patrick Prather / Miss Universe via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Miss France 2008

    Despite racy photos that appeared recently in a gossip magazine, Miss France 2008 Valerie Begue will keep her crown, but will not compete in the Miss World or Miss Universe pageants. (Francois Mori / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Miss Nevada USA 2006

    Katie Rees was stripped of her title in 2006 after racy photos of her appeared on the Internet. Some of the photos showed her kissing other young women, exposing her breasts and pulling down her pants to show her thong underwear. Afterwards, Rees signed a two-year, $2 million-plus deal to host a variety show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. In April, Rees agreed to pay fines for five misdemeanor traffic violations in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of resisting arrest. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Miss New Jersey USA 2007

    Ashley Harder held the title of Miss New Jersey USA 2007 and was set to compete in the Miss USA pageant before she became pregnant and voluntarily stepped down. Runner-up Erin Abrahamson assumed the title. (Marcin Szczepanski / Courier-Post via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Miss California USA 2008

    Christina Silva, 24, was declared Miss California USA in November only to have her crown revoked days later. Pageant official say a mix-up in tallying the votes led to the wrong woman being crowned. Silva, who is Hispanic, is suing the pageant, alleging rigging and racial bias. (Damian Dovarganes / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Miss Great Britain 2006

    Danielle Lloyd was stripped of her title after it was revealed that she had posed nude for Playboy and amid accusations that she was dating one of the judges at the time of the contest. Lloyd went on to star in the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 where she and other contestants were accused of bullying and making racist comments about Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. (Guang Niu / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Miss United States Teen 2003

    Former Miss Oregon Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche was stripped of her title in 2003 after she posed nude for Playboy magazine. Peniche appeared as a patient on the VH1 television show Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew but was involuntarily discharged.

    In 2009, a racy video of Peniche, "Grey’s Anatomy" star Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart was leaked. The 12-minute video was said to be shot inside Peniche’s apartment, and within it, Gayheart said she was high. (Albert L. Ortega / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008

    Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 Lindsey Evans was stripped of her crown 10 days before completing her reign. She and her friends skipped out on a $46 restaurant bill, and Evans left behind her purse, which contained a bag of marijuana. The women were arrested for theft and drug possession when they returned to retrieve the purse. (Splash News) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Miss Universe 2002

    Former Miss Russia Oxana Fedorova was fired less than four months into her reign for missing too many events. She was a law student at the time and complained that being Miss Universe interfered with her education. "I never had any intention of abandoning my university work," she said.

    The pageant president said contestants know Miss Universe is a full-time job and that winners spend 80 percent of their time traveling as goodwill ambassadors. (Dita Alangkara / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Miss America 1984

    Vanessa Williams, representing New York, became the first black Miss America. She had to resign when nude photos taken before her beauty contest victories were published in Penthouse. The crown was given to Suzette Charles, who's also black. Williams later became a successful singer with such hits as "Save the Best for Last," and "Colors of the Wind." Some of her movie credits include "Eraser," "Soul Food" and "Dance with Me." She currently plays the scheming fashion editor on "Ugly Betty." (Yvonne Hemsey / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Miss World 1973

    Marjorie Wallace was dethroned about four months into her reign, after she was accused of dating too many high-profile men, including professional soccer player George Best and singer Tom Jones. The organizers said the first woman from the U.S. to win the title hadn't maintained Miss World's reputation. She later became a television host for "Good Morning Los Angeles" and "Entertainment Tonight." (Evening Standard / Everning Standard via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. @Melissa_M_King\Twitter
    Above: Slideshow (23) Beauty queen scandals
  2. Image: Miss Universe 2011
    Darren Decker / Miss Universe Org. via EPA
    Slideshow (16) Miss Universe 2011


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