Miss Universe to change rules allowing transgender entrants

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NEW YORK — A rule change that would allow transgender women to participate in the Miss Universe beauty pageant next year is a step forward for equality, advocates said Tuesday after pageant officials announced the policy shift.

Pageant officials said they are working on the language of the official rule policy change but expected final word to come soon. The rules will have to be approved by Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, and NBC.

Trump and NBC co-own the contest.

The announcement of the policy change comes a week after the organization decided to allow Jenna Talackova to compete for Canada’s spot in the Miss Universe pageant this year

Talackova, a Vancouver resident, underwent a sex change four years ago after being born a male. The advocacy group GLAAD called on the Miss Universe Organization to review her case, as well as open the competition to transgender women, after she was disqualified from competing in the Miss Universe Canada contest next month.

“We want to give credit where credit is due, and the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization.

“We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”