Apr 15, 2012

[Technicolor Musings] Time For A Miss Transgender Universe?

One of the major news items going around is the decision by the Miss Universe organization announced that they would now allow transgender contestants to compete in the beauty pageant, a case brought on by the earlier disqualification of Jenna Talackova from Canada. This is a landmark move by the organization, certainly not one that I had expected them to make any time soon.

What has been more surprising has been the mixed reactions to this announcement even within the LGBT community. You'd think that this news would be taken positively by fellow queers but instead there are very mixed feelings - some of them less than positive.

The most common tack people are taking is that a beauty pageant like Miss Universe should only be for "real" women, which is probably one of the more inadvertently offensive statements being thrown around. And this is despite the fact that Jenna Talackova meets all legal requirements in Canada to be recognized as a woman.

What a lot of people don't factor in is why Jenna went through gender reassignment surgery (or whatever other term you want to use to refer to a sex change). The most common assumption, I'm certain, is that this is simply something that she wanted for herself. And ironically it's along the same train of thought that has people saying gay people only choose to be gay instead of this being an essential part of our character and gender identity.

Many transgender individuals go through this grueling process of changing from man to woman (or vice-versa) not out of choice, but out of the sense of being in the wrong body all their lives. They grow up feeling that they are women literally trapped in men's bodies (or the other way around) and thus the need to go through a sex change is not a vanity operation but more "corrective" in nature.

Thus it seems weird to me that people find it easy to argue that some people can be born homosexual and yet have a more challenging time accepting that transgenders may in fact be people with the wrong sexual organs based on how they honestly feel about themselves. We don't live their lives - we don't know the inner turmoil they've gone through in life as they struggle with their sense of self. That's just now how things go.

So this issue is a great opportunity for all of us to rethink our opinions on transgenders. It's a great opportunity to think beyond our current limitations and see the bigger picture. This world is always in need of more tolerance and acceptance. Let's begin with ourselves.


  1. I really believe that Miss Universe should be for real women only. It's like tradition. Pag sinabing Miss Universe, babae talaga ang kalahok. Eh pag pinayagan mga transgender, mako-confuse pa mga viewers. May follow-up question pa na "woman talaga or transgender?" Gumawa na lang ng new pageant for the transgender: Miss Transgender Milky Way! Just my two cents :)

  2. It's pretty offensive to transgenders to say they aren't "real women" though - a perspective you may want to give a bit more thought.

    And if we just focused on what seems to be "traditional" then gay marriage will never happen, women shouldn't have jobs and African Americans should remain slaves in the US.