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When encountering something unusual, abnormal, or strange, we tend to be surprised, shocked, uncomfortable, or even in denial. Something similar happened recently when the Miss Universe Canada candidate, Jenna Talackova, confronted us with something “bizarre.” She is a transgender who wants to take part in the 2012 competition!
This exposure was surely an unusual and difficult case for the pageant committee to deal with. They reacted in an unsurprising way, however, and the pageant announced in an official statement that Talackova was disqualified for the 2012 competition because she did not meet the requirements.
In the list of requirements for the Universe Canada competition, there were no rules mentioned regarding sex changes or cosmetic surgeries. The decision for disqualifying Talackova can therefore only be explained as discrimination and sexism. Talackova reacted bravely when she stated on Twitter: “I’m disqualified; however, I’m not giving up. I’m not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination.”
Talackova was not left alone with her determination. She is probably the first Miss Universe Canada candidate ever to experience the positive impact of social media. More than 42,000 people signed an online-petition, claiming that the disqualification of Jenna Talackova was unfair. However, behind the social media scene, it is the feeling of injustice and discrimination that made people stand up for her, fighting for something very natural and yet difficult – the basic rights for women.
Basic rights should not be an abstract term, but our reality. Talackova does not need to justify her sex. She looks amazingly beautiful, and she feels, thinks, and behaves as a woman does. She is participating in the competition with her very heart and mind.
It is the social logic and habitus, no less than a historical product, that makes us think in categories – we and the other, whites and blacks, or women and men (non-women). We feel we need to justify ourselves in so-called “particular situations”: a platonic friendship, a different sexual orientation, a relationship between masters and apprentices, and now, a transgender in a Miss Universe competition. Why, and for whom?
Is an unnatural-born woman an alien and should be kicked out? To be honest, what is normal and common in our society anyway? The positive outcome of the online-petition showed us that it is indeed the century to embrace a common identity and a universe spirit. If the Donald Trump-owned beauty pageant has not learned anything from the movement of feminism, it should from Miss Talackova, to whom we say: “Good luck on the competition!”
Image Courtesy of Jenna Talackova