Friday, April 13, 2012

The REAL Essence of a Woman?

I was browsing some webpages awhile ago, then I stumbled upon this article from Yahoo Philippines written by Maridol Rañoa-Bismark in Say Cheese! titled "Transgenders in beauty pageants," where she discussed things that gave me a new perspective on the issue.


As you all know, this arose when 23-year-old Jenna Talackova, a beauty hopeful in the Miss Universe Canada, was banned from competing because she is a transgender and according to the rules, only a natural-born woman can compete in the said beauty pageant.

According to the Mirror News, however, the Miss Universe Pageant organization had a change of heart last week and said Jenna could compete for the Miss Universe Canada sash. The Miss Universe contest is changing its rulebook, opening up the competition to all transgender women in time for next year’s pageant.

Officials in New York said they are working with campaign group GLAAD to finalise the rule change.

GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick said: “Jenna and all of the LGBT advocates who have called for this change and spoken out in support of transgender women are to be commended.

“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.”

Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organisation, added: “We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”


Last night at the MRT station, I overheard two office girls talking about the Miss Universe pageant's decision to revise its rules and accept transgenders in the prestigious international beauty pageant. Yes, the debate on whether it is right for these Johnny-come-lately females to join beauty pageants is raging — even across the globe where it was hailed as a big step forward towards gender equality even as some countries plan to file protests against it.

In the Philippines, Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc., which sends representatives year in and year out to the Miss Universe pageant (aside from other tilts), the reaction is that of wait and see.

The official statement reads:

"We respect the decision of the Miss Universe Organization to change its policy regarding transgender participation in the pageant. At the moment, however, we are still awaiting the guidelines of this policy decision from the Miss Universe Organization."

Others in the know about beauty contests are less tentative in their stance. They are against the new rule and would rather see transgenders competing in their own separate beauty tilt.

Tweeted 1999 Miss Universe Miriam Quiambao:

"In my humble opinion, transgenders should not be allowed to join the MissU because it's only for REAL women. We should all make a stand. Just because it's popular, it doesn't mean that it's right."

She even has a direct message for Miss Universe big boss Donald Trump: "Whatever happened to the 'essence of a woman?' The @MissUniverse pageant should be for natural born women."

She adds, "In my humble opinion, the decision to include transgenders in the @MissUniverse pageant sends the wrong message."

Miriam's fellow beauty queen, 1996 Miss World Miss Personality Daisy Reyes says, "For now, it's unfair (including transgenders in beauty tilts for women). Hindi sila pinanganak na babae. May mga fields na pambabae lang. Pero, pag sobra na ang bilang ng mga transgenders — five to 10 years from now — hindi mo masasabi."

On Jenna Talackova

Beauty and wellness expert Cory Quirino makes it clear she is speaking up as an individual, not as national director of the Miss World beauty pageant:

"I respect Donald Trump for making a stand like that. It's very bold and courageous. Personally, as a woman, I feel that by allowing a transgender to join the pageant, we'll probably discourage natural-born females to join the pageant. A transgender is not a natural-born female. This is so debatable and for me will open a can of worms. It will create more confusion because there are beautiful transgender females.

"I think this now validates putting up a transgender beauty pageant."

Cory has this to say about transgender Jennna Talackova, who was allowed to vie for Canada's spot in the Miss U, and whose move led the policy change:

"It was an intention on her part to challenge the established order and an effort for her to gain acceptance as a female in the natural-born female world. Unfortunately, I don't think this can happen or this will ever happen. I believe a transgender female should participate and compete in a pageant for transgender females. I just feel that even Jenna will feel more comfortable in a pageant for transgender females. U can't avoid it She would be ostracized. There will be criticisms and a lot of controversies. I think she will be more comfortable in a place where she is truly accepted."

Miss Philippines Earth EVP Lorraine Schuck remarks, "Not now or in the near future. Shocking pa yon. If (natural-born) girls compete with transgenders, imagine kung matatalo pa niya ako! Besides, transgenders have their own beauty pageant.

"But I have nothing against the decision of Miss Universe organizers to open the pageant to transgenders next year. Kanya kanya yang rules and criteria. Good luck to them.

"I won't close my doors, though. If the Miss U is successful (in its new rule), we might consider talking about it."


I, myself, have always been an advocate of Gender Equality, not only because I "belong" but also because I have a huge respect for the ideals of freedom and human rights.

Nonetheless, I believe that we should always be reminded that everything has its limitations. The very idea of freedom has its own limitations. We cannot simply do things simply because we want them. Doing so would create trouble to ourselves and to others as well. Don't get me wrong though. There is NOTHING wrong with being a transgender and asking for the same treatment as a woman. What I'm only saying is that there always lies a boundary to what we can do or ask for.

Let me cite a biblical passage found in Mark 12:17, which states, "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and give unto God that which is God's." Allow me, however, to use this in the context of giving to women that which belongs to women and giving to men that which belongs to men.

Science and Technology may turn a man into a woman but naturally speaking, a man is by nature a man even if he has undergone sexual transplant. Yes, I agree that a transgender should be given all her rights as a human and that may include to be treated as a woman but let us not forget that beauty pageant such as Miss Universe is originally created for the women, who are by nature women. This particular opportunity (if you want to put it in that way) belongs to women and men should not take part in it because it is not theirs. Allowing otherwise would result to consequences that may eventually lead to the destruction of the very dichotomy of men and women.

If, for the sake of argument, we would allow men who have undergone sexual reassignment to enter beauty pageants for women, why should we even make the contest for women only? Why not just erase the very idea of gender in the pageant if we are really clamoring for full gender equality?


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