What defines a “real man” or a “real woman?” In this day and age, with all of the discoveries that time and technology has brought us, can we really just sum it all up to genitalia and call it a day?
Jenna Talackova made headlines. First, when she was booted as Miss Universe Canada after it was discovered that she was transgender and then again when the organization behind the pageant decided to allow her to compete.
Sexuality is more than what we are born with, it is also what we feel inside. If you feel like a real man or a real woman then you simply are what you feel.
An effeminate man is just as much of a real man as one who is more masculine, and a very thin woman is just as much of a real woman as one who is more curvy. What society has chosen to define us in the past to help simplify gender and sexuality has only proven to be confining as time has progressed. Sexuality isn’t that black and white and we simply should not hold each other to those definitions anymore.
In an interview with ABC News, Talackova said she knew she was female as soon as she was conscious. She began hormone therapy at 14 years old and received sex change surgery in 2008. Her passport, driver’s license and birth certificate all identify her as female.
Talackova is only human. She deserves the same rights and chances as everyone else and her case is simply one of civil rights. The United States is a country that prides itself in trying to give equal rights to everyone. Our entertainment, in this case a beauty pageant, should be a reflection of that.
Some will point fingers and say that Talackova is not a natural woman. But how many people do unnatural things every day?
Pageant contestants go to great lengths to ensure that they look their best before they enter a competition. They put chemicals in their hair to dye it a different color and get their skin waxed and plucked until it’s smooth. Other contestants receive plastic surgery or get fake tans. The Miss Universe Organization has no rules against plastic surgery. Are these not other ways of enhancing themselves in unnatural ways so that they feel their best?
Despite some backlash and cries of “unnatural” from naysayers, Talackova’s acceptance into the Miss Universe pageant and the organization’s choice to change its regulations to include transgender contestants in the future can only bring positivity.
The Miss Universe organization is currently working with the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to make sure that the new rules will reflect the rights of the transgender community.
“At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today’s decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country,” said Herndon Graddic, a GLAAD spokesperson.
According to a survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, “90 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming people report harassment, discrimination and mistreatment on the job, and the injustices they face have devastating economic and personal consequences.”
Among these devastating personal consequences is the high suicide rate within the transgender community.
According to the survey, a “staggering 41 percent of the more than 6,400 respondents said they had attempted suicide, compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population.”
Hemmingways.org, a gender identity disorder information website, also states that suicide is five times more likely for transsexuals.
Though the topic will certainly remain taboo for a long time to come, perhaps Talackova’s admittance into the pageant will help give hope to others in the community who are facing hopelessness and searching for the same kind of acceptance in their lives. This change of regulations from the pageant’s organization can reflect a bigger step towards acceptance in the future.
Everyone deserves to live without being trapped in the confines of other people’s definitions.