After transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova
was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada pageant, she's built a growing online fan base hoping to reinstate her in the competition.
"Jenna is overwhelmed, and deeply moved by the support she has received from around the globe," her publicist Rory Richards tells CBC News, "especially from fellow Canadians that have said how proud they would be if she represented Canada in the Miss Universe Pageant."
Talackova, 23, shared her disappointment in a statement Monday, but says she hopes the experience will help others.
"I will look to turn this situation into a positive," she said, "so that other people in a similar situation are not discriminated against in the future."
On Friday, Talackova – who was born male and underwent gender reassignment surgery at 19 – was dismissed from the competition because organizers said "she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form."
As of Tuesday morning, a Change.org petition
created in attempt to reverse her disqualification has earned more than 30,000 signatures.