Support for Jenna Talackova, the beauty queen disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada pageant because she is transgender, is skyrocketing.
A change.org petition calling for the 23-year-old Vancouver native to be allowed to compete for the crown has so far drawn over 20,000 signatures. "She is a woman and deserves to be treated as any other woman would be," the petition reads. "What kind of genitals she was or was not born with (and even what kind of genitals she has today) is completely irrelevant."
The petition also cites from the pageant's varied list of requirements before concluding, "There is no mention of rules regarding sex changes or cosmetic surgery."
Talackova's disqualification over the weekend sparked an international media firestorm. A statement from Miss Universe Canada stated that the finalist had been disqualified because "she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. We do, however, respect her goals, determination and wish her the best."
Swearing that she was "not giving up," Talackova has since defended herself on Twitter, arguing, "I'm not going to just let them disqualify me over discrimination," according to The Province newspaper.
In a 2010 interview, Talackova said she knew she was a female at age 4 and began hormone therapy at age 14, before undergoing gender reassignment surgery at 19.
Talackova's case mirrors that of Chen Lili, a 24-year-old transgender woman and successful model who had hoped to represent China in the Miss Universe Contest before eventually being disqualified in 2004.
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Take a look at some responses to Talackova's case below: