TORONTO - Jenna Talackova is set to make history as the first-ever transgender contestant to compete at the Miss Universe Canada pageant.
The Vancouver beauty, who was born a man but underwent sex-change surgery four years ago, is among 62 contenders vying for the crown.
It all starts Thursday night with a swimwear and evening gown contest in front of a panel of 15 judges and a live audience in downtown Toronto.
The panel includes designers Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan of HGTV's "Home Heist," "The Kennedys" actress Kristin Booth and singer Kreesha Turner.
The Miss Universe Canada winner will be crowned Saturday.
Talackova has drawn the bulk of media attention so far, attracting an entourage of reporters and photographers at various public events in recent days.
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She's taken the scrutiny in stride, even lobbing a jab at pageant owner Donald Trump when asked how she feels about his involvement.
"Well, he has great pageant hair already," she quipped during a visit to a Toronto school earlier this week.
The tall, slim blond created an international splash when organizers disqualified her because she isn't a naturally-born female.
But Trump overruled the decision and said Talackova could take part.
Canadian organizers say the Miss Universe Canada winner is the contender that personifies "the combination of humility, beauty and intelligence that define women of the 21st Century."
Miss Universe Canada 2011 is Chelsae Durocher of Tecumseh, Ont.
"There's a lot of attention, but it's attention in a good way," Talackova said of her heavily publicized run at the crown.
"It's a good cause, right? It's for equality."