Jenna Talackova, Transgender Miss Universe Contestant, Makes Top 12
05/20/2012 AT 12:05 PM EDT
Jenna Talackova, the first-ever transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, was among the final 12 hopefuls before failing to make the cut for the top five in Saturday night's competition.
But she didn't go home empty-handed. The leggy 23-year-old Vancouver resident, who had earlier strutted her stuff in the bikini portion of the competition, was one of four contestants named Miss Congeniality.
Talackova, who was born male and underwent a sex change four years ago, was initially denied entry to the pageant because she was not born female. A petition signed by 30,000 people helped her to be permitted to compete.
"She's still a winner as far as I'm concerned," Talackova's high-profile attorney, Gloria Allred said during the pageant, according to the Associated Press. "She won an 'herstoric' civil rights victory and that I think is frankly more important than anything, any victory she would win, even representing Miss Canada."
Sahar Biniaz, 26, claimed the crown and advances to the international Miss Universe competition in December.