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U.S. beauty pageant can exclude transgender contestants, court rules

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By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) – The operator of the Miss United States of America LLC beauty pageant cannot be forced to allow transgender women to compete because it would interfere with her ability to express “the ideal vision of American femininity”, has ruled a US appeals court on Wednesday.

The 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, in a 2-to-1 decision, dismissed a lawsuit brought by Anita Green, a transgender activist, saying Miss USA’s policy of America to allow only “natural born” women to compete violates an Oregon law against. – law on discrimination.

Green, who is from Oregon, sued the company in federal court in Portland last year after its contest application was denied. Miss United States of America operates as United States of America Pageants.

The 9th Circuit said applying Oregon’s law, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places, to Miss United States of America would violate the free speech rights of the competition under the US Constitution. The court agreed with the company that it expresses its views on femininity in determining who can compete.

“It is commonly accepted that beauty pageants are generally designed to express the ‘ideal view of American womanhood,'” wrote Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke, appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump.

VanDyke was joined by Circuit Judge Carlos Bea, appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush.

The ruling upheld a 2021 ruling by a federal judge dismissing Green’s lawsuit.

Miss United States of America and an attorney for Green did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a dissenting opinion, 9th Circuit Judge Susan Graber said the court should have first decided whether the Oregon law applied to the company before weighing the constitutional issues. Graber was nominated to the 9th Circuit by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

(This story has been edited to correct the pageant name. A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Miss United States of America as Miss USA. Miss USA is a separate pageant run by a different company.)

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Mark Porter)

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