Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Transgendered beauty contestant has boyfriend, wants two kids

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NEW YORK -- Miss Universe contestant Jenna Talackova has a boyfriend and hopes to have two kids some day, but didn't initially tell him she was born male, the transgendered Canadian beauty queen said Monday.

In an interview with ABC Television's Good Morning America, Talackova said she and her boyfriend of 2 1/2 years needed to get to know each other as friends before she told him about her sex change procedure.

"Of course I had to let him know," Talackova said.

"He was very supportive, very accepting. He saw me for who I was."

Talackova, 23, had already made the Miss Universe Canada final before pageant organizers unleashed a wave of global media attention last month by disqualifying her on the basis she had to be a "naturally-born" female.

Pageant owner Donald Trump finally stepped in and overruled that decision, reinstating her ahead of the May 19 Miss Universe Canada contest.

Talackova, who had not hidden her status, found herself thrust into an unexpected and intense publicity glare.

"You're never trained for that," she said nervously, as her lawyer looked on. "But I'm handling it quite well."

Despite the cutthroat nature of the pageant, Talackova said fellow contestants have been supportive and made it clear they wanted her to compete.

She said as soon as word of her disqualification spread, they let her know they believed in equality.

"We've been training together for eight months so we've become close," she said of the other contestants.

The tall, slim, blond from Vancouver, who underwent sex-change surgery at age 19, says she has known from the earliest age that she was born the wrong gender. Growing up that way "builds character," she said.

People often don't understand what she has gone through, Talackova said, adding that when they do get to know her or become her friend, "they fall in love."

At the same time, she said, she never wanted to be an advocate, but said people say they find her inspiring, and that has made it worth it.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2012 C2

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