Monday, June 4, 2012
Miss USA Pageant: Rhode Island Wins After Expressing Support For Trans Contestants
GLAAD reports:

USA Today reports that Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island has been crowned Miss USA 2012. When asked “Would it be fair if a transgender woman won the Miss USA title,” Culpo responded, “I do think it would be fair…” because “there are so many people who have a need to change for a happier life. I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country.” The crowd erupted with cheers.Earlier this year, GLAAD worked with the Miss Universe Organization — which operates the Miss USA pageant — on opening the competition to transgender women. Said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization: “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…” Tonight’s crowning underlines the Miss Universe Organization’s commitment to accepting and including all women.This year’s Miss USA judges’ panel included Rob Kardashian, who danced alongside transgender advocate and author Chaz Bono in season 13 of Dancing with the Stars, as well as openly gay celebrity chef Cat Cora among others.

Miss USA Pageant: Rhode Island Wins After Expressing Support For Trans Contestants

GLAAD reports:

USA Today reports that Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island has been crowned Miss USA 2012. When asked “Would it be fair if a transgender woman won the Miss USA title,” Culpo responded, “I do think it would be fair…” because “there are so many people who have a need to change for a happier life. I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country.” The crowd erupted with cheers.
Earlier this year, GLAAD worked with the Miss Universe Organization — which operates the Miss USA pageant — on opening the competition to transgender women. Said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization: “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…” Tonight’s crowning underlines the Miss Universe Organization’s commitment to accepting and including all women.
This year’s Miss USA judges’ panel included Rob Kardashian, who danced alongside transgender advocate and author Chaz Bono in season 13 of Dancing with the Stars, as well as openly gay celebrity chef Cat Cora among others.

Monday, May 21, 2012
Canada: Transgender Miss Universe Canada Contestant Wins Congeniality Award
The Advocate reports: 

Jenna Talackova, the first-ever transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, made it to the top 12 finalists and became one of four women who shared the title of Miss Congeniality, reports People magazine.
Talackova, 23, was initially disqualified from competing for not being a “naturally born female.” After coaxing from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and a petition signed by 30,000 people, Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, subsequently overruled that decision and allowed Talackova to compete with 61 contestants.
Gloria Allred, Talackova’s high-profile attorney, released a statement, saying, “She’s still a winner as far as I’m concerned. She won an ‘herstoric’ civil rights victory and that I think is frankly more important than anything, any victory she would win, even representing Miss Canada.”
Miss Universe publicity director Brenda Mendoza has said transgender competitors are now welcome in all of its pageants around the world, but says it will be left to the individual franchises to determine if the recent policy change is carried out.
The pageant was held Saturday night in Toronto. Sahar Biniaz was crowned Miss Universe Canada.

Canada: Transgender Miss Universe Canada Contestant Wins Congeniality Award

The Advocate reports: 

Jenna Talackova, the first-ever transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, made it to the top 12 finalists and became one of four women who shared the title of Miss Congeniality, reports People magazine.

Talackova, 23, was initially disqualified from competing for not being a “naturally born female.” After coaxing from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and a petition signed by 30,000 people, Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, subsequently overruled that decision and allowed Talackova to compete with 61 contestants.

Gloria Allred, Talackova’s high-profile attorney, released a statement, saying, “She’s still a winner as far as I’m concerned. She won an ‘herstoric’ civil rights victory and that I think is frankly more important than anything, any victory she would win, even representing Miss Canada.”

Miss Universe publicity director Brenda Mendoza has said transgender competitors are now welcome in all of its pageants around the world, but says it will be left to the individual franchises to determine if the recent policy change is carried out.

The pageant was held Saturday night in Toronto. Sahar Biniaz was crowned Miss Universe Canada.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ms (HIV) Plus America

The Advocate reports:

The Ms. Plus America pageant celebrates plus-size women as beautiful contributors to society, and its newest winner is an HIV-positive woman who is taking that message of female unity even further.“I am hoping that by sharing that we can tear down the walls of being stigmatized,” says Michelle Anderson, who was crowned Ms. Plus America 2011 and plans to use her title to cross boundaries between women who are HIV-positive and those who aren’t. The crown sits on her mantel, but it has given Anderson access to tell her story in “rooms that I couldn’t go in just being HIV-positive.”Anderson, who works to help women and girls learn about HIV prevention, is a lead peer educator and programs assistant at the Afiya Center for HIV Prevention and Sexual Reproductive Justice in Dallas. The new Ms. Plus America, who has been positive since 1999, remembers first feeling the stigma that comes with the disease — an experience she hopes to help others avoid by telling her story to as many people as will listen.“When I was first diagnosed, I was in a treatment facility, and this might be gross to you, but women go through their thing monthly and someone apparently had dropped some blood on the toilet seat,” she remembers. “Guess who you think they made go clean it up? Me.”Anderson remembers saying, “That’s not mine.” But it didn’t matter. “To be cautious, they asked me to do it. What was that about? That really made me feel low and worthless.”The memory of moments like that motivated her to carry on whenever she felt like giving up the pageant work — the group dance numbers to learn and the interviews to prepare for. A friend spoke up and reminded her, “You can’t quit, because every time you walk across this stage, you are walking across the stage for every HIV-positive woman who can’t say that they’re positive.”

Ms (HIV) Plus America

The Advocate reports:

The Ms. Plus America pageant celebrates plus-size women as beautiful contributors to society, and its newest winner is an HIV-positive woman who is taking that message of female unity even further.

“I am hoping that by sharing that we can tear down the walls of being stigmatized,” says Michelle Anderson, who was crowned Ms. Plus America 2011 and plans to use her title to cross boundaries between women who are HIV-positive and those who aren’t. The crown sits on her mantel, but it has given Anderson access to tell her story in “rooms that I couldn’t go in just being HIV-positive.”

Anderson, who works to help women and girls learn about HIV prevention, is a lead peer educator and programs assistant at the Afiya Center for HIV Prevention and Sexual Reproductive Justice in Dallas. The new Ms. Plus America, who has been positive since 1999, remembers first feeling the stigma that comes with the disease — an experience she hopes to help others avoid by telling her story to as many people as will listen.

“When I was first diagnosed, I was in a treatment facility, and this might be gross to you, but women go through their thing monthly and someone apparently had dropped some blood on the toilet seat,” she remembers. “Guess who you think they made go clean it up? Me.”

Anderson remembers saying, “That’s not mine.” But it didn’t matter. “To be cautious, they asked me to do it. What was that about? That really made me feel low and worthless.”

The memory of moments like that motivated her to carry on whenever she felt like giving up the pageant work — the group dance numbers to learn and the interviews to prepare for. A friend spoke up and reminded her, “You can’t quit, because every time you walk across this stage, you are walking across the stage for every HIV-positive woman who can’t say that they’re positive.”