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Contestant born male in top 12 of pageant

The first-ever transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant strutted the runway Saturday night, making it to the penultimate round before losing her bid to win the title.

Jenna Talackova, 23, competed with 61 contestants and was among the final 12 contestants before failing to make the final five in the glitzy pageant.

Sahar Biniaz, 26, claimed the crown and advances to the international Miss Universe competition in December.

Talackova, who was one of four contestants named Miss Congeniality, was born a male and underwent a sex change four years ago. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native was initially denied entry to Canada's pageant because she was not born female. Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, subsequently overruled that decision last month.

The 6-foot-1 blond beauty, who towered over her fellow contenders while competing in the bikini and formal wear contests, garnered most of the attention Saturday night, soliciting loud cheering and howls each time she appeared on stage.

Talackova's involvement in the pageant has drawn international attention since she was denied entry and hired high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred to represent her in her battle to be readmitted.

The rules of the contest run by Trump's New York City-based organization say entrants must be "naturally born" females. But shortly after Talackova announced a news conference in Los Angeles with Allred, the Miss Universe Organization said in a statement on its Canada website that Talackova can compete "provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada and the standards established by other international competitions."

Miss Universe organizers have not elaborated on the statement.