• What does the word “transgender” mean?
  • Why do you think people would undergo costly and painful medical procedures to change their gender?
  • What sorts of challenges do you believe transgender people face in society?
  • Should they be legally protected from discrimination?

Read the following headline and predict what the article will be about.

  • Transgender Miss Universe contestant devastated by rules row, she says



Read the article on CNN and outline the chronology of the case. What happened and in what order. Be prepared to give a summary of the situation. You can use the Lesson Document to make your notes. Make sure you check and understand the highlighted vocabulary.

Transgender Miss Universe contestant devastated by rules row, she says


A Canadian beauty pageant contestant who was disqualified when the Miss Universe Canada organizers discovered she was transgender said Tuesday she had been devastated by the decision and wanted a clear change in the rules.

After initially disqualifying Talackova, organizers of the Miss Universe beauty pageant reversed course late Monday, saying she can participate. In a statement, the Miss Universe Organization said Jenna Talackova can compete provided "she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions."

The statement, however, did not elaborate on what the requirements were. The 6-foot-1-inch blond model told a news conference Tuesday of the pain the row had caused her.

"I am a woman. I was devastated and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust," she said.

Talackova, a 23-year-old Vancouver resident, also called on Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe competition, to state "in plain words" whether she will be able to compete and go forward to the Miss Universe final if she wins her country's contest.

"I have never asked for any special consideration. I only wanted to compete," she said.

"I also want Mr. Trump to clearly state that this rule will be eliminated because I do not want any other woman to suffer the discrimination that I have to endure."

Speaking to CNN Tuesday, Trump said that according to the laws of Canada and the United States, Talackova should be allowed to enter the pageant.

"So she will be entering the Miss Canada pageant, but we went strictly by the laws," he said.

"As with any competition, the Miss Universe pageant has rules that apply to all of its franchises around the world. Such rules include, but are not limited to, citizenship, age, and marital status requirements. Additionally, the rules currently state that all contestants must be naturally born females," the Miss Universe organization said.

Those rules are not posted on the Miss Universe website. High profile feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, speaking alongside Talackova, also said Trump needed to clear up the confusion over Talackova's participation.

"We need a clear answer -- not a wimpy, wishy-washy type of answer -- but something that we can take to the bank. Will Jenna be allowed to compete or not? Will he eliminate this abhorrent rule or not?"

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, commended the pageant organizer's decision Monday night.

"The Miss Universe Organization made the right decision and has taken an important first step," the group said.

Talackova was one of the 65 finalists selected to contend for the title of Miss Universe Canada and the honor of representing her country in the Miss Universe competition.

But organizers told her last month she could not compete because she lied about having undergone sexual reassignment surgery and did not meet requirements for the pageant.


  • What do you make of this case? Should Talckova be allowed to compete?
  • What does this news story say about society as a whole? Are we ready to allow transgender people to live as women?

Further Discussion

Another issue that’s been raised recently is children who identify as transgendered. Read the following story and make notes on the Who, What, When, Where, Why.

Supporters wear pink for transgender 8 year old girl

By Talia Ricci Reporter - Global News

Isabella Burgos

WINNIPEG- Dozens of Winnipeggers showed their support by wearing pink on Saturday in Transcona Centennial Square. Isabella Burgos received national attention after she was told she couldn’t use the girls’ washroom at school. The 8- year-old student is transgender and transitioned over the summer.

Bella’s parents say that she was allowed to use the girls’ washroom at first, but after a parent complained she was told she had to use the gender neutral washroom. The division has not changed their decision, but the family has been overwhelmed by the support since the incident.

“Whether it’s bullying, whether it’s LGBT rights, it obviously touches a lot of people all over the world,” says Izzy Burgos, Bella’s mom.

The hashtag Pink4Bella started trending on Twitter when the story first came out two weeks ago and brought dozens of supporters together on Saturday. Bella’s brothers were by her side at the event, including her 11-year-old brother Rece who witnessed Bella being bullied by a parent. He said he was happy to see the outpour of support.

“It’s important right, it’s just the best feeling I’ve ever had.”


  • What do you make of this? Do you think Bella’s school should allow her to use the girl’s bathroom?
  • Do you think it’s OK for children this age to be making these choices? Why do you think it’s happening?