PH pageant groups react to transgender policy

Posted at 04/11/12 7:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Two beauty pageant groups in the Philippines made their respective statements on Wednesday following the decision of the Miss Universe Organization to give transgender contestants a chance to be crowned the world’s most beautiful woman.

The Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc., which sends representatives to Miss Universe and other international pageants, said it respects the group’s latest policy change.

But the group, which will hold this year’s Binibining Pilipinas coronation night on Sunday, did not mention if it will follow suit.

“We respect the decision of the Miss Universe Organization to change its policy regarding transgender participation in the pageant. At the moment, however, we are still awaiting the guidelines of this policy decision from the Miss Universe Organization,” Tessa Mangahas, public relations and corporate communications manager of BCPI, said in a statement.

Organizers of the advocacy-driven Miss Philippines-Earth pageant, however, stressed that only “naturally born” women should be allowed to join their beauty contest -- at least for now.

Representatives of Carousel Productions, which run the Miss Philippines-Earth and Miss Earth pageants, said they have to “respect our Catholic and Moslem tradition.”

"I don't think we're ready for that yet," said Peachy Veneracion, vice president of Carousel Productions. "Especially the Philippines."

"We have religions here that are really conservative. We're talking about Moslems, Christians, Catholics. So I don't think it will happen in the near future," added Lorraine Schuck, the company's chief executive officer.

For his part, Carousel Productions president Ramon Monzon said: "We don't have to be the pioneer in this particular field, of being the first ones to accept [transgenders in beauty pageants]. We'll see how it happens."

Contestants of the said pageant had mixed views, with some respecting the organizers’ rules and others open to the new policy.

"I do respect them as individuals but I know that they have their own pageants where they can also excel and show their talents," one of them said.

"I believe in equal rights... If I were to compete against a transgender I would see him, or her, as a worthy competitor," another added.

Miss Universe 1999 first runner-up Miriam Quiambao, meanwhile, said on Twitter that "transgenders should not be allowed to join the Miss U because it's for real women."

After being initially disqualified, transgender contestant Jenna Talackova was allowed to join the Miss Universe Canada pageant to be held this May.

Talackova, 23, underwent a sex change operation when she was 19. -- Report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News