Corona and Sash
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales () - April 8, 2012 - 12:00am

Donald Trump faces a conundrum.  Should he let this six-foot one gorgeous blond bombshell compete in Miss Canada?  Of course, bombshells are more than welcome to sashay down the runway of his universe, and fight tooth and nail for sash and crown.  But see, here’s the thing.  This particular bombshell happens to be a post-operative transgender.  Meaning, this woman was formerly a man.

Jenna Talackova had sex reassignment surgery at 19.  Now, at 23, she just won a regional beauty contest in Canada, which qualifies her to compete against the best of what Canada has to offer, and if she wins that, maybe, even against the world’s most beautiful in the Miss Universe pageant.

Of course, nine times out of ten, the response would be: no way.  This is supposed to be a “miss” beauty contest, and former misters ain’t got no business messing around with the other girls.  Try Miss Gay Universe, or even Queen, Cebu City’s equivalent.  (In fact, Jenna’s competed in an international transsexual competition in Thailand).   But a pageant intended to showcase women in all their glory? Fat chance!

Canadian law, however, says Jenna Talackova is a woman.  That’s why her passport says she is a woman. Her driver’s license says she’s a woman.  Even her birth certificate says she is a woman.  Jenna had the operation to give her the equipment of a woman.  So, for all intents and purposes, she’s a woman!  What’s Donald Trump to do?  Let his valuable franchise be sued for discrimination?

Our very own impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona has already tackled, and fumbled with, this issue. In a ruling that endeared the Chief Justice to transsexuals all over the Philippines, Corona ruled in the 2007 case of Silverio v. Republic of the Philippines that what determines the sex of a person is what shows up when the physician visually examines the genitals of a child upon its birth.

Opening with a quote from the Bible, Corona denied Rommel Silverio’s application to change her birth certificate and make it state she was a woman.  Notwithstanding her sex reassignment surgery, Corona used his simplistic definitions of a male (someone that impregnates) and female (someone that gives birth) to end up opining that those who have had sex reassignment surgery do not fall within the normal understanding of male and female.  (Which leads us to the question, what are they, then?  Goddesses?)

That’s not what happened in Cagandahan v. Court of Appeals, though.  A year after the Supreme Court barred Silverio from marrying his American fiancé, it then allowed Jennifer Cagandahan to change his name to Jeff and have his birth certificate changed to ‘male.’  Cagandahan had been registered a female, but he was a hermaphrodite, with “ambiguous” genitals.  Since Cagandahan had identified as male and dressed as male, the courts allowed him to be recognized as male, notwithstanding what the appendage he had been born with.

The Court said it wouldn’t be limited by what’s physically apparent.  Since Jennifer had female chromosomes but had a condition which gave her excessive androgen and induced a change in her appearance to male, then they would consider her male.  In an apparent distinction made by the Court from the Silverio case, since Jennifer had done nothing to alter her body but had just let nature take its course (meaning, no sex change operation), then the Court could recognize the individual’s own choice after reaching the age of majority and making a mature choice as to his or her sex.

Good for female-to-male converts, but really doesn’t help male-to-female transgenders if we go by Corona’s earlier opinion.

The latest word from Miss Universe organizers is that Jenna might be allowed to compete in Miss Canada, since under Canadian laws, she is, after all, a female.  Based on the legacy left us by Chief Justice Corona, however, it doesn’t look as if there will be a transgender Miss Philippines competing in the Miss Universe soon.

In the lingo of the 80s, it’s what’s called an ‘award.’

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