Miss Universe Canada Opens Transgender Dialogue

Why are we so afraid of our transgendered sisters and brothers? I think it’s because we live in a society that has refused to acknowledge them. We have kept them cloistered and far away from our world. We have tried to ignore them; refused to educate ourselves about them; and confused them with cross-dressers, drag queens and other assorted gender-benders. If we ignore them, they don’t exist.

It seems the media only reports on transgendered people when they are prostitutes who end up in the press for cavorting with well-known actors, like Hugh Grant and Eddie Murphy, or when they are famous like Chaz Bono and Renee Richards. Some of us think they are mentally ill. Most of us don’t really know what they are all about, and don’t want to know.

This week’s news that Miss Universe Canada, Jenna Talackova, was removed from the Donald Trump Miss Universe pageant, brings home all the issues we are afraid to talk about.

Are men and women who transition to the opposite sex, gay or lesbian? What does sexual orientation have to do with gender identity? Are people really “born in the wrong body” or is their perception skewed by childhood sexual abuse or other traumatic events?

First of all, not all people who identify internally as the opposite gender transition to a new identity, however, the ones that do are called transsexuals. Transgendered people are just like the rest of us: they can be heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian. Their sexual orientation is not linked to their internal genetic identity.

While the American Psychological Association refers to a condition called “gender identity disorder”, not all transgendered people have this disorder, only those who are psychologically impacted by their situation resulting in severe stress, anxiety, depression or other anti-social behaviors.

Medical researchers posit various theories on why some people are transgendered. We know that our gender is based on chromosomes: XX for women and YY for men. We also know that some people are born with both male and female genitalia.

Other medical experts opine that fluctuating hormones during pregnancy may affect gender; others link gender identity to brain structure. No one in the medical community believes that transgenderism is a chosen behavior.

Jenna Talackov is a beautiful woman who began her gender journey at the age of four, when she realized she was a girl. At fourteen she began hormonal treatments and had surgery five years later. She competed with 65 other women and won Miss Canada. That she fits the Trump beauty queen mold is unquestionable.

Like other genetic anomalies, such as Downs syndrome, education is the key to understanding. Can you imagine a pageant contestant with Downs syndrome being ushered out the door? Never. We must look discrimination in the face and affirm it has no place in our lives.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


11 thoughts on “Miss Universe Canada Opens Transgender Dialogue

  1. The Miss Universe Canada organisers threw out Jenna Talackova when they found out she had undergone surgery to become a woman.

  2. It is my understanding that the Miss Universe Canada’s official rules do not contain any mention of sex changes or of elective surgery. In order to be a candidate, one must be a Canadian citizen between 18-27, and must not be married or pregnant.

    If that is the case, why are Trump & Co. so befuddled as to cast out this poor woman?

  3. Miss Universe is a beauty pageant, not a physical sport. I cannot see how a transgendered woman would have an unfair advantage over her cisgendered competitors. The only “problem” I can see is that the other competitors would feel embarrassed in the event that they lost to someone they consider to be less of a woman than they are. This is not a sentiment that should be encouraged or enabled.

    It’s very sad to see this happen. However, I am not surprised to see it happen at Donald Trump’s Miss Universe. Donald Trump is well-known to be highly conservative and very insensitive, so it’s to be expected that he’s not inclined to show any support for a transwoman. (Mr. Trump, it doesn’t make you gay to find Ms.Talackova attractive.)

  4. These contests are about advertising money and making a profit by staging an event. Anything that might in the least affect the bottom line profit of this private enterprise business, is going to be followed. If the contestant was fat, they would be discriminated against, and the same if they had dentures, or had little hair and had to wear a wig. The investors will just have to add prescreening rules like the Olympics, where the participants must pass a DNA test that puts the person into the category of woman by being XX. The ‘contest’ is all about putting forward a very narrow image ideal that the investors think will sell to the silly public who follow such things. This is not about the right to vote, or the right not to be hired based on prohibited discrimination. It is a private selection process for an advertizing job, and the public gets to participate a little by paying money directly or indirectly. There is just one product. All others are discriminated against for a million public and private reasons. In this case, one of the rules is XX or XY chromosomes. They will just tighten up their prescreening, just as the Olympics did. I discriminate for McDonalds and against Burger King, and I carefully discriminate about the people I invite into my home. Lawyers carefully discriminate against a hundred candidates, to select the ‘just right’ person for the job of their Office assistant. It is a harsh world of a million choices every day.

  5. If they have a right to discriminate in their beauty pageant, then viewers have the right to be outraged over it. You refuse to patronize fast food establishments, the general public can refuse to “patronize” the Miss Universe Pageant. Further, individuals can choose to attempt to increase awareness of the discrimination so that people can make an informed decision as to whether they wish to support the pageant.

    The general awareness of trans issues is just so, so limited. I am hopeful that the events surrounding Ms. Talackova’s removal from the pageant might encourage some people to consider trans issues a little more deeply and maybe even do a little knowledge-seeking of their own. There is so much ignorance and fear of transgendered people (often even from LGB groups whom one might expect to be natural allies), that anything that brings these issues into the light without demonizing the trans person is welcome by me.

    I guess we shall see how this story unfolds.

  6. An open letter regarding transgender rights in Canada

    As many of you probably are aware, an attempt is currently being made among our elected Members of Parliament to entrench rights for transgendered people into some of our laws regarding hate crime and human rights. It is not a completely new trend in Canadian politics, and in fact the current Bill C-279 is actually the fourth attempt to secure rights for this tiny minority group, one to which I, a 2nd year university student, belong.

    But before I share my thoughts regarding the bill and transgender rights, I think it might be beneficial to explain what it really means to be transgendered, considering the widespread misunderstanding, and indeed, fear and hatred regarding persons like myself.

    And simply put, the term “transgender” refers to a huge variety of individuals, who feel that their biological sex is not the sex they are inside, or feel they belong under both or neither gender label…etc. And anyone may have transgendered feelings; regardless of their biological sex, age, beliefs, exposure to transgender topics, and so on. Furthermore, transgendered people often suffer emotionally due to the obvious inner conflicts they constantly feel, the expectations of those around them, and even their own beliefs.

    As a result of this emotional suffering, the transgendered population has the highest suicide rate of all different groups of people. And sadly, many of those who attempt, and sometimes succeed, in taking their own lives are children and youth. Transgender kids as young as six have been known to have suicidal thoughts.

    On the bright side, however, many transgendered individuals do manage to overcome. Some, like Miss Jenna Talackova, undergo some combination psychiatric therapy, hormone replacement therapy, voice therapy, and cosmetic surgery to align their physical gender with their inner gender, and are successful in fully transitioning into their desired gender.

    Clearly, the above explanation of transgendered people is nowhere near sufficient to provide anyone with a full comprehension of what’s at stake for people like myself, but hopefully it is enough for me to move on to the discussion of Bill-C279 by our MP’s.

    Let me start with a remark made by Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, who said “I understand the intent behind what the honourable member is doing, but does he agree with the statement that as legislators we have to be clear? Unfortunately . . . the bill, as drafted, is vague with respect to those central points.” And Conservative MP Dean Allison mentioned a lingering worry among opponents of transgender rights by commenting that entrenching transgender rights into the criminal code could open a new door for sexual predators and allow men access to girls’ washrooms.

    At first glance, both may sound like reasonable worries, but are they really?

    Firstly, I mentioned that transgendered individuals are often very emotionally distressed, and require the help of therapists and medical professionals. Now, is it the legislator’s job to define what it means to be transgendered, or the job of the appropriate professionals to do so? And clearly, psychologists have long since understood how to distinguish those who are truly transgendered. And in the simplest sense being transgender means not truly fitting under the two gender labels, so to have defined “male” and “female” is really to have defined what is not transgendered.

    And continuing on that point, Mr. Dean Allison said himself that sex predators are by large cisgendered (natural born) males, to which I whole heartedly agree; it is to my understanding that over 90% of sex predators are heterosexual, cisgendered males. But is it reasonable to continue to overlook the discrimination faced by transgendered people out of fear that sex predators will somehow force their way into girls changing rooms or washrooms by claiming to be transgendered?

    Well, considering that it is quite reasonably expected of transgendered individuals to still use the facilities that are in line with their physical profile at any stage in their transition, I highly doubt it would become possible for anyone who appears predominantly male to enter girls’ washrooms just because the law protects transgendered people.

    Furthermore, I’ve already mentioned that transgendered people suffer emotionally, and I am inclined to think that any transgendered woman would be horrified at the thought of entering a female-only facility before they’ve become indistinguishably female physically.

    And, quite frankly, it is simply primitive to assume that there only exist washrooms for males and females. Gender neutral, single stall washrooms have existed for quite some time, and can be found in many public buildings nowadays. I believe it’d be more reasonable to assume that adding transgender rights to legislation would spur creation of more such washrooms, than to assume it will spur sex predators to suddenly go around demanding to be allowed into girls’ washrooms.

    And isn’t it also true that, as legislators, MPs have to rely on facts?

    The only thing I see when people claim giving transgendered people rights will endanger children is blatant fear mongering. And in response to their apparent desire to “protect the children” I’d like to ask “Who will protect the transgendered children?” “What will happen to any transgender child that happens to be born into one of these transphobic families?”

    The Institute for Canadian Values, a vehement opponent of transgender rights, once published advertisements that read: “PLEASE! DON’T CONFUSE ME. I’M A BOY” coupled with another version reading “I’M A GIRL”. And I can honestly say I lose a little hope every time I read something like what Mr. Dean Allison claimed, so it horrifies me to think how hurtful these posters would be for a transgender child.
    I believe that no human being, let alone a child, should be left to suffer to the point where they just want to die.

    So I feel absolutely crushed when people like the Institute for Canadian Values, who claim to have the safety of children at heart, publish such thoughtless posters in a world where an estimated 50% of transgendered youth attempt suicide.

    Canada has a reputation for being diverse, tolerant, and accepting, and there are very few, if any, places I personally would feel safer. But even here, transgender people are discriminated against and even outright hated, and it has been this way as long as people have been transgendered. And in 2012, Canadian MPs are still debating whether the rights of transgender people should be protected under the law. Despite all the facts, we are losing to an outdated apprehension towards gender variant people.

    Are we, perhaps, all too tiny of a minority to even bother protecting?

    A transgendered Canadian

  7. No one is scared of transgendered people. No one is afraid of our transgendered neigbours. They are not cloistered and far away from our world. Every permutation is “out there” in full flaunt. We don’t need to fully understand every single person, as it is a spectrum range that is often beyond easy definition. We cannot ignore them, for the whole floral garden is in full bloom before our eyes.

    The varied categories of individuals, already have all their rights protected against abuse and discrimination. We have human rights codes and Charter rights. Tinkering with the Criminal Code might make a few individuals feel better, but it won’t change society. Sounds like there is a bit of a publicity stunt going on by certain MPs from the political left to grandstand. No one should be discriminated against, and if one can find a specific case where a person has suffered discrimination (despite all the many laws against it) we can look specifically at that case, to see whether any gaps exist in the law. At this point there are no gaps.

    The new Bill helps nothing. It says (Subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code is replaced by the following: Definition of “identifiable group” (4) In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, “gender identity, gender expression” or sexual orientation.

    The Bill adds the quoted “_” words. It won’t hurt but it won’t help. We already have as many legal protections as legislators could think of. “Sexual orientation” already covers it, but that legal section has done nothing for social attitudes.

    More work can be done to improve social awareness, but the western world is trying to respond to the Islamic onslaught of hate and discrimination where TG folks and others are automatically condemned to hell, which is the basis of Sharia Law. Therefore, the question is not to have meaningless feel-good minor law changes, but to respond socially through community education, that there is no basis for any kind of discrimination against people for human rights. The lefties try to falsely make it a political problem, when it really is a social, cultural and now religious problem (Islam)

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