Transgender women can take part in Miss Universe Singapore from 2013.

Jenna Talackova. Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni. From http://www.reuters.com. Click photo to go to site.

After Donald Trump overruled the decision to disqualify transgender Jenna Talackova from the Miss Universe Canada pageant, the Miss Universe organization which he owns now decides to allow transgender women to take part in all its competitions from 2013 onwards. This decision was reached after discussion with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Yahoo! Singapore reported last Monday the 23rd that the organiser for Miss Universe Singapore, Derrol Stepenny Promotions, will follow the new ruling. This means transgender women here can join naturally-born females to compete for the crown from next year onwards. A spokesperson from Derrol Stepenny told Yahoo! Singapore:

“Even though we have not received any official communication from Miss Universe organisation stating that  all countries will have to adhere to the new ruling, we are nonetheless open to it. That is the new ruling and we will not discriminate against transgenders who apply.”

I think that’s great and commendable of Derrol Stepenny. A few days ago, I found that Yahoo! Singapore posted a poll asking “Would you accept a transgender as Miss Singapore Universe?”, and I voted yes. A few minutes ago I checked on that poll again, and found that only 29% voted yes as well (1674 respondents). 71% (4159) responded no. Disappointing but not surprising somehow.

So I hope Derrol Stepenny will continue to be brave and stick to their decision even if it turns out that not all countries need to adhere to the new ‘transgenders allowed’ rule for the main Miss Universe pageant.

I can’t believe I’m writing about pageants. Even more than that I can’t believe I just typed ‘naturally-born females’ earlier. Surreal.

I don’t know why but this issue makes me think as well of the seemingly massive numbers of immigrants and migrant workers (we call them ‘foreign talent’ here or FT for short) that I feel us Singaporeans are inundated and trying to cope with. Now that they live in public housing estates and are everywhere, I can’t tell if a Chinese I stand next to is a Chinese who was born and raised in Singapore or Malaysia, or a China Chinese, until he or she speaks and lets me hear the accent. Or that brown-skinned person who looks like a fellow Malay to me, who I greet in Malay but he turns out to be Filipino, so I feel embarrassed for the assumption and greet him again, in English. Or if that Indian guy was born and raised here as I was, or migrated from India or someplace else just some years ago. Does it matter? Of course not, but only if we are all treated fairly.

If two women stand on stage for a pageant and one was ‘naturally-born’ as a woman, and the other went through a sex change to become one, does it really matter? Can we tell which is which? Well maybe when they open their mouths to speak. So as long as they are fabulous-looking enough, and sound like women enough, yeah let them get on stage to compete as equals. As for any “but they had surgery to achieve beauty so it’s not fair!” argument, well who’s to say the ‘naturally-born’ contestants have not had any surgery to enhance their looks as well?

The move to include transgender women might also be the thing to spice things up, in terms of having a bigger ‘talent’ pool of qualified women. Because really, in my opinion there are always so many contestants in our Miss Singapore pageants who are not only not beautiful but such Plain Janes, including those who actually managed to win the crown and represent the country. Just take a look at some of the previous winners, as shown on the Derrol Stepenny site. To me only Jessica Tan (2007) and Rachel Kum (2009) are pretty. The others were like so… meh.

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