Anita Green, a biological male who competed in this year’s Miss Earth Elite USA competition is suing over being rejected to compete from “United States of America Pageants.”
“I felt as though I was being invalidated,” Green says. “I felt as though the organization was saying I am not a woman and I’m not woman enough.”
Per Williamette Week, Green’s case appears to be the first of its kind in Oregon. If she wins, it could establish a legal precedent for Oregon and 20 other states with similar nondiscrimination laws, requiring pageant organizers to allow transgender people to compete.
The lawsuit is part of a continued push for equality in the state, says Mikki Gillette, an executive at Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group.
“The last decade or so has seen a real broadening of visibility for transgender people,” says Gillette, who is also a transgender woman. “But this kind of message that ‘you’re not really a woman’ is so harmful—for the person it’s said to and for young people growing up, trying to understand their place in the world.”
United States of America’s Miss Oregon pageant, which takes place annually in Corvallis, says on its website it is “designed to encourage women to strive to achieve their hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations, while making them feel confident and beautiful inside and out.” State winners qualify to enter the national United States of America Miss pageant and win a prize package valued at more than $2,000.
Green moved to Oregon from Montana in 2018, and in 2019 won Miss Earth USA’s Elite Miss Oregon contest. One year ago, she began corresponding on Facebook with United States of America’s Oregon pageant director.
According to Facebook messages acquired by WW, Green—who works for a video game company—reached out to Smith, asking for more information about the pageant. Smith sent a link with the pageant rules, and after reading them, Green responded, “You know I’m transgender, right?”
“I did not,” Smith wrote back. “Our rules and regulations allow same-sex marriage, however this is a natural pageant.”
Smith then offered to help Green find another pageant. Green asked if Smith would “be willing to change the rules to allow transgender women to compete.”
“Again,” Smith wrote, “we would be happy to help you find a pageant that you qualify for, however at this time we do not anticipate the rules changing.”
“Well,” Green responded, “I’ll talk to my attorney about this then because discrimination is unacceptable. This is clearly discrimination.”
“I am sorry that you feel that way,” Smith replied and ended the conversation. Smith declined WW’s request for comment on the exchange.