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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Cyber-row as Miss France gets 'man' label
Elodie Gossuin
Elodie Gossuin: Focus of internet rumours
Internet rumours that the current Miss France beauty queen was born a man have sparked an angry backlash against the medium.

The claims about 20-year-old student nurse Elodie Gossuin spread by internet around the world before being published in a US newspaper.

According to the reports, Miss Universe competition organisers were checking on her sex at birth.

But the head of the Miss France committee, Genevieve de Fontenay, has angrily hit back at the internet as an uncontrolled and terrifying source of misinformation.

This imbecilic rumour, which undermines the dignity of Elodie Gossuin, was started by a deranged individual

Genevieve de Fontenay
"I'm terrified by this type of media," she said. "You can't stop it, they send rumours around like that."

Ms Fontenay said rumour-mongers, paedophiles, prostitutes and criminals were able to go about their business with impunity on the internet.

She said she had been "upset, shocked and irritated" by the reports.

'Perfectly normal'

And she insisted that the beauty queen at the centre of the row had nothing to hide.

"Elodie Gossuin is a perfectly normal young lady," said Ms Fontenay.

"She will be a candidate for Miss Universe like all the others and that's it," she said, in comments on the French radio station RTL.

If she turns out to be a man, we'll put her in the first plane to France

Contest spokesman quoted in US
The New York Daily News wrote on Tuesday that organisers of the Puerto Rico contest were checking whether Gossuin had been born a man, and would put her on the first plane back to France if she had been.

"Our regulations say that all delegates must be natural-born females," spokeswoman Mary Hilliard McMillan was quoted as saying. "If she turns out to be a man, we'll put her in the first plane to France."

According to Ms Fontenay, the rumours have also sown confusion with another contest, Miss Trans, which features transsexual contestants.

Miss Trans 2001

"This imbecilic rumour, which undermines the dignity of Elodie Gossuin, was started by a deranged individual," she said.

"This 'Miss Trans 2001' contest has absolutely nothing to do with 'Miss France 2001'.

"I'm even more shocked that the big US media repeat this sort of slur without checking first."

The contest is due to go ahead in Puerto Rico on 11 May.

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17 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai beauty queen is a man
18 Apr 01 | Middle East
Army chic for Israeli beauty queen
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