On Tuesday, March 27th CNN posted an article about Jenna Talackova. She is a Canadian beauty pageant contestant who had been selected as one of 65 finalists to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant. However, organizers of the competition have disqualified Jenna because she is transgender and they claim that rules state that contestants must be naturally born females. The article states that upon the “discovery” the organizers decided that Jenna had lied and no longer met the requirements of the competition.
The article also states the Jenna sees her disqualification as an act of prejudice and there might be legal action on her part. Also, the article says that the Facebook page of Miss Universe Canada has been flooded with comments, one in particular stating that the “Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.”
The timing of this event/article is really interesting considering our Halberstam reading and the viewing of The Brandon Teena Story. As I read the article and the comments on the article I kept relating the situation with Jenna to some things Halberstam wrote. Halberstam writes that Brandon’s masculinity posed a threat to male masculinity and I was thinking that perhaps a reason Jenna was disqualified was because she also posed a threat. Maybe to other people Jenna is a threat because she doesn’t possess the masculinity they are demanding of her or that they would make them comfortable.
“As so many transexuals will attest, the voice can be a powerful gender marker for the person trying to pass, and the ‘wrong’ voice can confuse or even anger an unsuspecting listener who may have already made a confident gender attribution that must not be reversed” (108). This quote stuck out to me because it sounds exactly like what happened to Jenna. The people she had “fooled” are now angry and her disqualification is their backlash. Perhaps that is not true and they actually think they are following the rules but the defensive comments on the article nearly all have an angry tone and are from people sticking up for the organizers. No matter what happens, Jenna’s life is completely different depending on how much attention this story gets in Canada/abroad.
— Megan Hruska