Jenna Talackova
Miss Universe to allow transgender contestants to compete following new ruling REUTERS

Miss Universe is to allow transgender contestants to compete following a controversial rule change, pageant official have announced.

The beauty contest organisers made the landmark move after the disqualification of transgender contestant Jenna Talackovav caused a public outcry.

The 23-year-old Vancouver resident, who underwent gender reassignment surgery when she was 19, was reinstated into the competition after she was barred under the rule that contestants must be "naturally born" female.

Gay rights group Glaad advocates described the organisations' policy shift, which will go into force next year, as a step forward for equality.

Miss Universe president Paula Shugart said: "We want to give credit where credit is due. The decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with Glaad and not Jenna's legal representation which, if anything, delayed the process."

An ecstatic Talackova said: "I am a woman. I was devastated and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust. I have never asked for any special consideration. I only wanted to compete."

Miss Universe is working on the wording of the rule change.

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