Transgender Miss Universe Contestant Jenna Talackova to lead Vancouver Pride Parade, Aug 5

Vancouver’s 2012 Pride Parade and Festival just got a little more exciting.

Jenna Talackova, the Vancouver-born model who made headlines this year in her fight over gender rules with the Miss Universe pageant, will be one of the parade’s grand marshals.

Talackova will lead the parade as it winds its way through the streets of downtown Vancouver on Sunday, Aug. 5, starting at noon.  Featuring hundreds of rainbow-coloured floats, this year’s parade is expected to attract more than 700,000 spectators, making it one of the five largest pride parades on the planet.

Talackova  jumped into the spotlight earlier this year after she was selected as one of 65 top applicants to participate in Miss Universe Canada 2012.  Born and raised as “Walter,” Talackova completed reassignment surgery at age 19.  When pageant organizers discovered this, she was disqualified on the grounds that competitors had to be “naturally born” women. 

Talackova and her lawyer challenged the decision, demanding that Miss Universe – and its owner Donald Trump – allow her to participate.   After intense media coverage, the organization ultimately relented, stating that she could participate “[as] long as she meets the standards of legal gender recognition requirements of Canada.”

Talackova subsequently went on to finish in the Top 12 at the pageant and earn the title of Miss Congeniality.

Photo credit: John Biehler | Flickr

This year mark’s the 34th installment of the Vancouver Pride Parade, the largest event of its kind in Western Canada. It kicks off at noon on Aug. 5 along Robson Street, turning onto Denman Street and finally wrapping up along Beach Avenue near False Creek’s Sunset Beach (You can see the route here).

The parade is the focal point of a packed weekend of parties, seminars and community-building events.  Highlights include the Davie Street Dance Party, an outdoor celebration on Davie Street on the night of Friday, Aug. 3, as well as the Pride Festival, a waterfront party at Sunset Beach on Sunday, Aug. 5.

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