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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 8, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 23
Newly crowned Miss USA accepting of Transgender women
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Newly crowned Miss USA accepting of Transgender women

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

In the good old days of beauty pageants, a contestant may have been asked during the interview portion about her stance on education or the importance of the space program. But times have changed.

On Sunday night, Olivia Culpo of Cranston, Rhode Island, answered one of the toughest, most controversial questions ever directed to a pageant delegate: 'Would you feel it would be fair that a Transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?'

Submitted by the general public via Twitter, and read aloud by pageant judge Rob Kardashian, the question could have easily derailed any of the four other contenders. But after taking only a few seconds to collect her thoughts and words, Culpo effortlessly replied, 'I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women,' she said. 'But today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it's a free country.'

Ten minutes later, Culpo was crowned Miss USA.

The topic of Transgender women and beauty pageants surfaced a month ago when Jenna Talackova was initially disqualified and then allowed to compete for the Miss Canada title. That prompted a swift decision from the Miss Universe Organization, which oversees the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA competitions.

'We want to give credit where credit is due. And 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,' stated MUO President Paula Shugart.

Culpo, a 20-year-old self-professed 'nerd,' seems to live by her own words: 'Beauty is found in the way you treat others.' She will represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant this December.

Miss Maine, Rani Williamson, one of 16 semi-finalists selected from the field of 51 state delegates, served as an intern for the LGBT organization Equality Maine. The previous Miss USA titleholder, Alyssa Campanella, publicly voiced her support for same-sex marriage during her reign.

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