Beauty Pageant Can Bar Transgender Contestants: Federal Court

Beauty Pageant Can Bar Transgender Contestants: Federal Court

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a national beauty pageant last week, noting that organizers can prohibit transgender participants because it goes against the show’s mission of promoting an “ideal vision of American womanhood.”

Interestingly, the ruling came from a federal court that leans to the left.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Miss United States of America pageant has a First Amendment right to ban transgender — that is, biologically male — contestants from the competition, the Daily Caller reported.

The ruling was handed down in response to a 2019 lawsuit filed by Anita Green, a biological male, after he was rejected from the Miss United States of America’s Miss Oregon competition for not being a “natural born female.”

“As with theater, cinema or the Super Bowl halftime show, beauty pageants combine speech with live performances such as music and dancing to express a message,” U.S. District Judge Lawrence VanDyke, a Trump appointee, wrote in the opinion. “And while the content of that message varies from pageant to pageant, it is commonly understood that beauty pageants are generally designed to express the ‘ideal vision of American womanhood.’”

The Daily Caller added:

Green had already competed in several Miss United States of America pageants before being rejected from Miss United States of America’s Miss Oregon pageant for being transgender, according to the court documents. Green argued that it was illegal under state law for the national pageant organization to discriminate against an individual based on gender identity.

The court said that the First Amendment protects the pageant’s values and mission of promoting “natural born female[s]” and that Green’s inclusion would change the message of the pageant. If Green was included, the court argued, the pageant would have to adjust its mission to exclude the “natural born female” rule from its requirements.

“The pageant allows only ‘natural born female[s]’ to compete and enforces this requirement, and repeatedly maintains that it does not believe that biological males who identify as female are women,” court documents said. “In fact, the pageant explains that it communicates these views on womanhood every time it uses the word ‘woman,’ because the fact that the pageant ‘does not adjectivize the word woman is part of the message: the word ‘woman’ so naturally means ‘born female’ that the pageant does not need or use qualifiers.’”

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in another First Amendment case in December.

“The Supreme Court’s December argument session will feature two of the highest-profile cases of the 2022-23 term: a free-speech claim by a website designer who opposes same-sex marriage and a case involving the power of state legislatures to set rules for federal elections. That news came with the release of the court’s December argument calendar on Tuesday,” SCOTUS Blog reported last month.

“The justices will hear argument in 303 Creative v. Elenis, the case brought by Colorado website designer Lorie Smith, on Dec. 5. Smith wants to expand her business to create custom wedding websites, but she opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds and wants to put a notice on her own website to explain that – a message that would violate Colorado law, which bars businesses that are open to the public from discriminating against LGBTQ people or announcing an intent to do so,” the blog continued.


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