Judge rules beauty pageant can ban trans women. On the same day the Equality Act passed the House, no less

Anita Noelle Green trans beauty pageant Miss USA

A judge in Oregon has upheld Miss United States of America LLC’s policy banning trans women from competing in the beauty pageant, on the same day the Equality Act passed in the House of Representatives.

Anita Noelle Green was the first trans contestant for Miss Montana and was the titleholder for Miss Elite Earth Oregon 2019. But for the Miss United States of America pageant, she was deemed not good enough.

Green was banned from Miss United States of America’s 2019 Oregon pageant on the basis that she is not a “natural-born female”. So she sued the competition in December 2019, claiming its gender identity discrimination violated Oregon’s public accommodations act, which says Oregonians have right to full and equal accommodations without any discrimination on account of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

Green’s legal team also argued her exclusion from Miss United States of America infringes on her first amendment rights to free speech and free association.

However, district judge Michael Mosman sided with the pageant. He ruled Miss United States of America is an “expressive” organisation, rather than a commercial one, so it has a first amendment right to its “message” and isn’t required to change it.

He made this ruling on the same day that the US House passed the Equality Act, which would prohibit any discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Green told OregonLive in a statement that she was disappointed in the ruling, but her lawsuit drew attention to an important issue even if it wasn’t ultimately successful.

“This case brought awareness to an issue many people were and still are unaware of and that issue is that discrimination against transgender people is still actively happening in the private and public sector even within the pageant circuit,” Green said.

Miss United States of America claims it supports diversity and isn’t anti-trans

John T Kaempf, who represented Miss United States of America, praised the ruling, saying his client is “not anti-transgender“, but it “wants to be able to hold a pageant that is only for biological females”.

He told OregonLive after the ruling: “Contrary to what people might think, my client, the pageant, is a supporter of diversity.

“It believes there can be a Miss Black United States of America pageant, a Miss Native American pageant or a transgender pageant.”

Green’s lawyers argued she was excluded from participating in Miss United States of America because of an “express discriminatory eligibility policy requiring contestants to be ‘natural born female’.”

In the court documents, her lawyers argued: “This policy, intentionally designed to exclude the specific class to which [Green] belongs – transgender females – is discriminatory because it denied [Green] the full and equal advantages and privileges of [Miss United States of America’s] services in violation of Oregon’s public accommodations law.”

Miss United States of America’s motion to dismiss Green’s discrimination claims said the pageant’s mission is geared towards “natural-born women” and including Greene would “undermine its vision” and mar its “message of biological female empowerment”.

Miss United States of America’s legal team also continuously misgendered Green in their submissions. The court documents presented on behalf of the beauty pageant refer to Green as a “biological male who identifies as female” and a “man who identifies as a woman”.

A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the pageant as Miss USA, rather than Miss United States of America.