Miss Universe contestant Jenna Talackova has a boyfriend and hopes to have two kids some day, but didn't initially tell him she was born male, the transgendered Canadian beauty queen said Monday.
In an interview with ABC Television's “Good Morning America,” Ms. Talackova said she and her boyfriend of 2½ years needed to get to know each other as friends before she told him about her sex change procedure.
“Of course I had to let him know,” Ms. Talackova said.
“He was very supportive, very accepting. He saw me for who I was.”
Ms. Talackova, 23, had already made the Miss Universe Canada final before pageant organizers unleashed a wave of global media attention last month by disqualifying her on the basis she had to be a “naturally-born” female.
Pageant owner Donald Trump finally stepped in and overruled that decision, reinstating her ahead of the May 19 Miss Universe Canada contest.
Ms. Talackova, who had not hidden her status, found herself thrust into an unexpected and intense publicity glare.
“You're never trained for that,” she said nervously, as her lawyer looked on. “But I'm handling it quite well.”
Despite the cut-throat nature of the pageant, Ms. Talackova said fellow contestants have been supportive and made it clear they wanted her to compete.
She said as soon as word of her disqualification spread, they let her know they believed in equality.
“We've been training together for eight months so we've become close,” she said of the other contestants.
The tall, slim, blond from Vancouver, who underwent sex-change surgery at age 19, says she has known from the earliest age that she was born the wrong gender. Growing up that way “builds character,” she said.
People often don't understand what she has gone through, Ms. Talackova said, adding that when they do get to know her or become her friend, “they fall in love.”
At the same time, she said, she never wanted to be an advocate, but said people say they find her inspiring, and that has made it worth it.
High-profile American lawyer Gloria Allred said Mr. Trump did the right thing by allowing Ms. Talackova to stay in the competition, because the disqualification was simply wrong, something that should be recognized globally.
“That's a blatantly discriminatory rule,” Ms. Allred said.
“We wanted Donald Trump to step up and be a leader in this battle for equality (and) we're very happy that he has conceded that rule does violate the laws of Canada and of the United States.”
Mr. Trump appeared to agree with that position last week, saying it wouldn't be fair to allow the transgendered to compete only in certain countries.
Regardless of the outcome of the contest, Ms. Allred said her client has already won a major victory by her display of courage.
“We want everyone to be judged not on how they were at birth, but for the beautiful young women they are today,” Ms. Allred said.
“Judge them on their merits.”