A transgender beauty queen who made international headlines after being disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada pageant has found an unlikely supporter.
As Think Progress is reporting, conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly spoke out in defense of Jenna Talackova on Fox News last week.
Asked O'Reilly: "What right does the Miss Universe pageant have to violate this lady’s right to be a woman? They are basically saying because you weren’t born a woman you don’t have a right to be a woman..[it] doesn’t sound right to me."
In a 2010 interview, Talackova said she knew she was a female at age 4 and began hormone therapy at age 14, before undergoing gender reassignment surgery at 19. Nonetheless, a statement from Miss Universe Canada stated that the 23-year-old had been disqualified because "she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. We do, however, respect her goals, determination and wish her the best."
Talackova's case mirrors that of Chen Lili, a 24-year-old transgender woman and successful model who had hoped to represent China in the Miss Universe Contest before eventually being disqualified in 2004.
A change.org petition in support of Talackova has so far drawn over 40,000 signatures. You can view that petition here.
Earlier this year, O'Reilly also stuck up for Ellen DeGeneres, after the talk show queen's new JCPenney spokesperson role came under fire from a conservative anti-gay group because she is a lesbian. He even likened the group's boycott of the Texas-based retail chain after they hired DeGeneres to a "witch hunt."
Take a look at other transgender pioneers below: