IT’s official. Singapore’s Miss Universe is now open to contenders who used to be a Mr. Women who have had a sex change will be allowed to apply from next year, the beauty pageant’s organizer said, during the press presentation of this year’s Miss Universe Singapore competitors.
Traditionally, only natural-born females aged between 18 and 27 are allowed entry to the contest, which is co-owned by United States real estate mogul Donald Trump and television network NBC.
Hopefuls compete in national editions before taking part in an international pageant.
The game change was sparked by an outcry earlier this year after a Canadian transgender contestant, Jenna Talackova, was disqualified from her country’s contest. She was eventually allowed to return to the competition.
Derrol Stepenny Promotions, which runs the Republic’s edition of the international contest, said at the time that it was considering allowing those who had undergone a sex change to compete. On Sunday, it confirmed the move at the unveiling of this year’s finalists. The new rule will be implemented worldwide from next year (2013).
The new rule will be implemented worldwide from next year, but a spokesman for the company said it was still waiting for specific instructions about the change from the competition’s parent organisation.
Derrol Stepenny Promotions managing director and organising chairman Errol Pang said having transgender contestants could be “a good thing or a disaster” for the local edition, but urged sponsors to continue their support.
Some said they would have to examine the specifics of the change before committing to next year’s contest.
A spokesman for Jog Swimwear, a France-based firm that is providing costumes for this year’s Singapore finalists, said: “Transgender people are very common in Asia, but I don’t know if our headquarters will agree to sponsorship next year.”
The Derrol Stepenny Promotions spokesman added that the new rule means natural-born hopefuls will have to work harder to win the crown.
“They will be competing against transgender women who have had plastic surgery,” she said. “It will be up to them to compete in other ways besides through their natural beauty, for example through their wit and intelligence.”
Jean Chong, co-founder of Sayoni, an online platform for lesbian, bisexual and transsexual Asian women, lauded the change but said it did not address the bread-and-butter problems of the community here.
“Not being able to get jobs is one of the biggest problems they face. There should be a law to make such discrimination illegal among employers,” she said.
The rule change means this year’s local pageant in September at the Shangri-La Hotel will be the last to officially showcase only natural-born women here. The 14 finalists unveiled yesterday included students and a wide range of professionals, including a social entrepreneur, a mergers and acquisitions associate and a marine fuels trader.
The winner will represent Singapore at the international pageant in December. Its location has not been announced.— The Straits Times / Asia News Network