Miss Universe Pageant allows transgender women to participate, could mean big ratings for NBC telecast


Jenna Talackova (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Five days after the Miss Universe Organization announced 23-year-old Talackova, who underwent a sex change four years ago, could compete in the Miss Universe pageant this year, organization officials announced Tuesday they are crafting language in the official rules to allow transgender women to participate in the Miss Universe pageant next year. Trials for next year’s pageant begin this summer.

We’ll know if Talackova is among those in the running this year on May 19, when the 2012 Miss Universe Canada will be crowned. If she is, that would be big news in the pageant world. And “big news” would be good news for NBC’s December broadcast of the Miss Universe Pageant, which, in its last broadcast, in November of ’11, suffered its smallest overall audience since the mid ‘70s. An average of 5.336 million people watched that pageant-cast, according to Nielsen.

NBC is a co-owner of the Miss Universe franchise, along with Donald Trump.

“The decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with [Gay &Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation],” Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart said Tuesday, adding, “We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”

Last week’s decision to allow Talackova to compete reversed a decision made in March by the Miss Universe Canada folks to disqualify her from competition because she did not meet the pageant’s requirements.

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