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Philippine debate rages on transgenders joining Miss Universe contest

     Debate has been raging in Manila on plans to allow transgenders to join the Miss Universe contest after Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe franchise, reinstated Jenna Talackova, 23, as a contestant at Canada's pageant, after she was disqualified over issues on her true gender.
     Miriam Quiambao, first runner-up in the 1999 Miss Universe contest claimed that Trump's decision was wrong. In a tweet, Quiambao, said, "In my humble opinion, the decision to include transgenders in the Miss Universe pageant sends the wrong message." Citing her arguments, Quiambao said, "The Miss Universe [contest] should be for natural-born women… Transgenders should not be allowed to join the Miss U because it's only for real women."
     "Whatever happened to the ‘essence of a woman'?" Quiambao said in reference to a "true woman's" capability to give birth as a test of being a woman.
     Cory Quirino, director of Miss World beauty pageant, a rival of Miss Universe, told Yahoo OMG that Trump's decision "will probably discourage natural-born females to join the pageant". Because of that decision "three-fourths of the candidates for Miss Universe (in the Philippines) will be transgenders… and naturally-born women will lose their chance to compete in Miss Universe," Diance Necio, Miaas Philippines-International in 2011, also told Yahoo OMGThis should make the organisers of Miss Universe pageant decide to put up a prestigious beauty contest for transgenders, argued Necio. 
      Agreeing with her, Quirino said the existence of beautiful transgender females already "validates the putting up transgender beauty pageant (for them). (In that kind contest) I think she (Talackova) will be more comfortable in a place where she is truly accepted," explained Quirino. Assessing Talackova's campaign in Canada's beauty contest, Quirino said it was "to challenge the established order and an effort for her to gain acceptance as a female in the natural-born female world." 
     Lorraine Schuck, chief executive officer of Carousel which handles Miss Earth pageant, another beauty contest, told Bulletin that Trump's decision would not sit well with other beauty contests in the Philippines. "We have religions here that are really conservative. We're talking about Muslims, Christians, Catholics. So I don't think it (transgenders being allowed to join Miss Universe contest) will happen in the near future," Schuck said. Natural-born women would feel bad if they are defeated by beautiful transgender women, she added.
     Meanwhile, Ron de Vera, an active blogger singled out Quiambao in criticising alleged bias against Talackova. In an open letter to Quiambao, De Vera accused Quiambao, in his blog, of judging transgender women as "fake women… (and) thereby relegating them to second class citizens". Arguing that Talackova is a "natural woman," De Vera said, "She was born with a brain that sexually differentiated into a female brain.  I believe you are the kind of person who would favor the brain as the seat of (sexual) identity instead of the genitals," De Vera told Quiambao who raised up the issue of "the real essence of a woman" as a quintessential qualification for those who want to join beauty contests.
SOURCE: Gulf News, 4/15/2012


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