A Miss Universe Canada contestant was booted from the competition Friday after the pageant discovered she was born a male.
Jenna Talackova, 23, is considered a transgender though she has identified herself as a woman since she was four years old, People reports.
At 14 she began hormone therapy and underwent surgery at age 19. Because she was not born a female, Talackova did not meet the requirements to compete.
Though technically she is a transgender, in a 2010 interview Talackova said, “I regard myself as a woman…with a history.”
In a statement Monday, Talackova said, “I am very disappointed with the decision taken by the Miss Universe…organizers. However I will look to turn this situation into a positive so that other people in a similar situation are not discriminated against in the future.”
The national director of Miss Universe Canada, Denis Davila, said that there are rules about a contestant’s gender at birth. Talackova indicated on the registration sheet that she was born a female, but later admitted she was born a male. The rules state a contestant must be a natural-born woman.
Davila said, “She was hoping we could put her back in the competition, but the rules are very clear, and there’s no way we can go back on it.”
Despite the organization’s decision to oust her, it said, “We do respect her goals, determination and wish her the best.”
Feelings about Talackova’s dismissal from the competition have been mixed. Some feel that only natural-born women should be allowed to compete. However, others have started a petition in her favor.
A Change.org petition has formed in an effort to get Talackova back into the competition. So far it has 20,171 signatures.