A judge in Oregon has upheld Miss USA‘s policy banning trans women from competing in the beauty pageant, on the same day the Equality Act passed in the House of Representatives.
Anita Noelle Green was the first trans contestant for Miss Montana and was the titleholder for Miss Elite Earth Oregon 2019. But for the Miss USA pageant, she was deemed not good enough.
Green was banned from Miss USA on the basis that she is not a “natural-born female”. So she sued the competition in December 2019, claiming its gender identity discrimination violated Oregon’s public accommodations act, which says Oregonians have right to full and equal accommodations without any discrimination on account of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.
Green’s legal team also argued her exclusion from Miss USA infringes on her first amendment rights to free speech and free association.
Watch: Demi Lovato Slams Gender Reveal Parties for Being Transphobic
However, district judge Michael Mosman sided with the pageant. He ruled Miss USA is an “expressive” organisation, rather than a commercial one, so it has a first amendment right to its “message” and isn’t required to change it.
He made this ruling on the same day that the US House passed the Equality Act, which would prohibit any discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Green told OregonLive in a statement that she was disappointed in the ruling, but her lawsuit drew attention to an important issue even if it wasn’t ultimately successful.
“This case brought awareness to an issue many people were and still are unaware of and that issue is that discrimination against transgender people is still actively happening in the private and public sector even within the pageant circuit,” Green said.
Miss USA claims it supports diversity and isn’t anti-trans
John T Kaempf, who represented Miss USA, praised the ruling, saying his client is “not anti-transgender“, but it “wants to be able to hold a pageant that is only for biological females”.
He told OregonLive after the ruling: “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.”
Green’s lawyers argued she was excluded from participating in Miss USA because of an “express discriminatory eligibility policy requiring contestants to be ‘natural born female’.”
In the court documents, her lawyers argued: “This policy, intentionally designed to exclude the specific class to which [Green] belongs – transgender females – is discriminatory because it denied [Green] the full and equal advantages and privileges of [Miss USA’s] services in violation of Oregon’s public accommodations law.”
Miss USA’s motion to dismiss Green’s discrimination claims said the pageant’s mission is geared towards “natural-born women” and including Greene would “undermine its vision” and mar its “message of biological female empowerment”.
Miss USA’s legal team also continuously misgendered Green in their submissions. The court documents presented on behalf of the beauty pageant refer to Green as a “biological male who identifies as female” and a “man who identifies as a woman”.
Watch: Who Supported You When You Came Out? | Reality Check With Baga, Blu and Vinegar