— 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.
"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.
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.
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.
“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."
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.