Discrimination at Miss Universe Canada


Jenna Talackova, a 23 year old woman from Vancouver, British Columbia will not have the opportunity to compete in the Miss Universe Canada Pageant this year because of the simple fact that the Miss Universe Organization doesn’t have policies that recognize trans women as the women that we are.

This is part of the our continuous problem in our society, where powerful institutions or structures such as the Miss Universe Pageant continue to tell society that its okay to discriminate, just because they have the power to do so. This, therefore, gives people the idea that it is okay to invalidate trans women as the women that we are.

Jenna never denied who she was. She publicly stated in an interview that she was “very proud to be a woman with a history.” She was a finalist and could have become Canada’s representative in the Miss Universe Pageant, which is also owned by Donald Trump. Obviously many Canadians were eager to have this beautiful woman to be their representative to their international beauty pageant — she after all,  was one of 65 contenders for the coveted Canadian crown. Yet, all of the sudden, they change their mind and want to disqualify Jenna for being trans.

What kind of bull shit is this?

During an interview about the disqualification of Jenna, Denis Davila who is the national director for the Miss Universe Canada stated: “there is a set of rules and one of them say that she has to be a naturally-born female.” He then went to say that Jenna was dishonest about it.

How dare he? What does he know about it? And who is he to say who is naturally-born female?

I consider myself to be a naturally-born female. I am sure Jenna feels also the same way. Jenna never denied being a woman of a trans experience. She mentioned in the same interview that she started her hormone treatment when she was fourteen. She never deceived them regarding who she was or where she came from. They took it among themselves to change their mind and discriminate Jenna simply because she is a woman of trans experience.

These are the kind of ongoing issues that affect our community. Powerful institutions continue think they can define womanhood and what it means to be a woman. When they are referring as “naturally born female,” I wonder if they are talking about a woman who was born with a vagina. But I also ask myself: what does a vagina has to do with it? Women are more than their body parts. Why is our society so caught up with people’s genitals?

There are plenty of other qualities to a woman other than just having a vagina. All of us women have strength, values, integrity, honor, dignity, families, friends, people who love us and recognize us for who we are. Why is that so hard for people in power to comprehend? Why can’t you just get over it and understand that we are women. If you think that our womenness is between our legs, you will be disappointed when you discover the truth.

In closing, I would encourage all women of trans experience to continue to be who you are, participate in whatever you like and, be the women that you are — regardless of who likes it and who doesn’t. In my opinion, a vagina does not make a woman, she does.

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About the author

Bamby Salcedo

Bamby is a nationally recognized transgender Latina woman activist, academic, public speaker, community organizer and artist. Bamby has created and found several organizations and projects such as Angels of Change, the first trans youth calendar aimed at providing trans youth with a positive image and the TransLatin@ Coalition. Bamby has participated in numerous state and national conferences and colleges as a presenter and motivational speaker. Bamby has been recognized locally and nationally for her great work in the community.

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