Federal Judge Tosses Trans Beauty Queen's Suit Against Miss United States of America

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday March 2, 2021

A federal judge in Oregon dismissed a lawsuit alleging discrimination on the part of the Miss United States of America pageant, but the plaintiff, transgender beauty queen, says her suit was a success in raising awareness.

The plaintiff, Anita Noelle Green in Clackamas, Oregon, "holds the title of 2019 Miss Earth Elite Oregon and competed in the 2018 Miss Montana contest," The Oregonian reports.

After competing for the title of Miss Montana, Green "applied to participate in the Miss United States of America national pageant in 2019, but her application was rejected," the account added.

Other high-profile pageants, including Miss Universe, allow trans contestants to compete, but Miss United States of America's policy only permits cisgender women - or, what it calls "natural-born women" - to participate, news sources noted.

Green's suit claimed that the pageant violated "Oregon's public accommodations law," but U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman disagreed, saying that Miss United States of America is "an association that cannot, under the Constitution, be required to allow plaintiff to participate in what defendant says is a contradiction of that message."

The reason for that view, the judge said, is that Miss United States of America isn't primarily a business, but rather "an organization that does promote a message and seeks to maintain control of that message," the Oregonian noted.

The judge drew a line that directly connected the suit with a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that "New Jersey couldn't enforce its nondiscrimination laws to force the Boy Scouts to allow gay scoutmasters in the state," the Oregonian recalled.

However, "In court papers, Green's lawyer questioned the pageant's so-called mission, noting the Miss United States of America pageant had a man dressed in drag serve as a judge and that minors have been provided with alcohol at a 2019 Miss Oregon competition, part of the United States of America Pageants."

Saying that Miss United States of America "is on the wrong side of history for choosing to actively discriminate against transgender people," Green pointed out in a statement that "the road to creating meaningful change has always been a long and bumpy one," and said the case shed light on areas in which trans Americans face bias.

Miss United States of America was owned at one time by Donald Trump, but he sold the pageant in 2015, before winning the 2016 presidential election. Four years later, Trump lost the 2020 race to Joe Biden. Trump appeared at CPAC last weekend, where he slammed the Biden administration for its pro-equality stance, claiming that Biden was destroying women's sports by supporting trans female athletes. Trump offered no evidence or details to support the claim.

A lawyer for Miss United States of America, LLC, John T. Kaempf, denied the pageant was discriminatory, saying the organization "just wants to be able to hold a pageant that is only for biological females."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.