Story at a glance
- The Miss United States of America Pageant does not allow transgender women to participate.
- A judge dismissed a lawsuit against the USOA filed by the first transgender woman to compete for Miss Montana.
- The ruling protects the association's mission to promote “natural-born” females.
A transgender woman’s lawsuit against a pageant organization that only allows “natural-born” females to compete was thrown out by a judge last week.
“My client is not anti-transgender but it just wants to be able to hold a pageant that is only for biological females,” Attorney John T. Kaempf, who represented Miss United States of America LLC, said after the ruling, reported the Oregonian. “Contrary to what people might think, my client, the pageant, is a supporter of diversity. It believes there can be a Miss Black USA pageant, a Miss Native American pageant or a transgender pageant."
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The private pageant corporation only accepts “natural-born” females as contestants, according to its eligibility criteria, which the lawsuit alleged is discriminatory against transgender women. After Miss Universe, another national pageant organization, allowed transgender women to compete in 2012, Anita Noelle Green became the first transgender woman to compete for Miss Montana USA and the Miss Earth organization, crowned Miss Earth Elite Oregon in 2019.
"This is about giving minorities a voice," Green told Willamette Week in December 2019, when she first filed the lawsuit. "I believe I'm beautiful, and I want to set an example for all women—cisgender and transgender—that beauty doesn't have to fit into specific molds."
In a statement reported by the Oregonian, Green said that while she was disappointed, the lawsuit "brought awareness to an issue many people were and still are unaware of.” Online, she fired back at hateful comments.
This was said to me on IG. There are valid criticisms to be had with pageantry. I know why it is *I* compete in pageants though. I do them because I like getting dolled up and I do it to promote a message of embracing the beauty each and every one of us has. pic.twitter.com/XyVFOz1Qit— Anita Noelle Green (@anitanoelleg) March 2, 2021
But U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman sided with the United States of America pageant, citing past Supreme Court rulings that limited nondiscrimination laws when pitted against the First Amendment free speech rights of private groups.
“Because I viewed it as an organization that does promote a message and seeks to maintain control of that message, I view it as an association that cannot under the Constitution be required to allow plaintiff to participate in what defendant says is a contradiction of that message,” Mosman said in the ruling.
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