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Transgender beauty back in spotlight

Jenna Talackova made a worldwide splash in the surreal world of beauty pageants in 2012, but next year the gender equality crusader says it's back to reality.

The 24-year-old Vancouver native who made international headlines as the first transgender competitor in the Miss Universe pageant says her focus has shifted to a new television show she hopes to see on the air in the near future.

Talackova says she's in the final stages of signing with a network, adding detailed plans for the program have already been laid.

"It's a reality show following me around a bunch of activities in my life," Talackova said in a telephone interview. "I've been saving things for this TV show. I'll be going to Korea, I'm going to be judging a pageant...It's going to be following me and giving Canada and the world an eye into my life."

Speculation has been swirling about Talackova's television debut since the days after the pageant. An employee of Shaw Media originally said the network planned to pick up a program featuring the 6-foot-1 blond, but the broadcaster later said no show of the kind was planned for its immediate lineup. Talackova said details of the program could not yet be revealed, but said episodes should start airing in late 2013.

Talackova's slot on the small screen has come about as a direct result of her time strutting on the stage of the Miss Universe Canada pageant back in May.

Talackova, who was born male and underwent sexual reassignment surgery at age 19, was originally barred from taking part in the pageant because of her gender at birth. She lobbied hard for the right to participate, and pageant organizer Donald Trump eventually gave her the green light to compete.

She made it to the top 12 and took home one of four Miss Congeniality prizes, but found herself hailed as a victor by those who supported her fight for gender equality.

Talackova quickly became a poster girl for gay rights in Canada, serving as a grand marshal at Vancouver's gay pride parade in August.

While she's embraced the role of equal rights advocate, Talackova says she hasn't done so without reservations. She "despises" the term transgender, describing herself instead as one of many "normal women" following a less traditional road to self-expression.

"There's millions of us that are absolutely normal...and do amazing things daily like everyone else," she said. "There's no difference. Some people just have to go through different paths, and that path doesn't have to judge their present person or their future."

The Canadian Press


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