Yesterday, GLAAD and the Miss Universe Organization announced a policy change that will allow transgender women to participate in the competition.
Sweeping media coverage of the decision has largely praised Miss Universe for making the right decision by supporting all women.
"Everybody should be allowed to participate in every aspect of society," Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Associated Press. "Absolutely it's good news, it's another pernicious structural discrimination barrier taken down."
Susan Stryker, director of the Institute for LGBT Studies at the University of Arizona, also spoke to the AP, saying the decision was “a great thing” for transgender media representation and could help break stereotypes. Stryker also emphasized that changes beyond beauty competitions must be made for transgender people who continue to face disproportionate rates of hate violence, and still lack vital employment and housing protections.
Transgender actress, producer, and advocate Laverne Cox hailed the news, saying “I am so moved and excited that The Miss Universe Organization has sided with justice and equality... No one should have a glass ceiling on their dreams. It is my hope that this moment can begin to highlight other injustices trans people face so that they too may be eradicated.”
In a blog published to The Huffington Post, Cox went on to say that many of her transgender friends "were over the moon when Donald Trump announced on Friday's 20/20 that the discriminatory ban on trans women competing in the Miss Universe pageant would be lifted."
She also spoke to Reuters TV - along with GLAAD - about the importance of transgender-inclusion in the media.
People.com editor, transgender advocate, and GLAAD-trained spokesperson Janet Mock was interviewed by HLN's Showbiz Tonight about what this decision means for transgender equality. Mock has also chronicled the Miss Universe story on her blog.
Openly gay celebrity blogger Perez Hilton also celebrated the decision, calling it “AMAZING progress,” and saying he “couldn't be more excited.”
Tuesday’s announcement comes after weeks of talk between GLAAD and the Miss Universe Organization. In late March, GLAAD called on the group to address Miss Canada’s decision to disqualify contestant Jenna Talackova because she is transgender.
“We want to give credit where credit is due,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization. “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. We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”
Through this story, GLAAD was not only able to work with the Miss Universe Organization to create new transgender-inclusive rules, but was also able to highlight the tremendous hurdles facing transgender Americans today.