By Kathleen Gilbert

FAIRFAX, Virginia, February 23, 2009 ( – George Mason University students Friday elected a man as this year’s Ms. Mason 2009, after he competed as a female alter-ego.

Senior Ryan Allen, a homosexual who regularly cross-dresses and performs at nightclubs under the name “Reann Ballslee,” said he entered the contest as a joke and was happily surprised to find that he had won.

“It was just for fun,” Allen, 22, told the Washington Post. “In the larger scheme of things, winning says so much about the University. We’re one of the most diverse campuses in the country, and … we celebrate that.”

University Press Secretary Dan Walsch said the school was “very comfortable” with the pick, as the contest rules do not explicitly require Ms. Mason contestants to be female. 

Vicki Kirsch, director of George Mason’s Women & Gender Studies Department, praised the choice as “a significant and positive benchmark in Mason’s history.”

Sophomore Grant Bollinger was one of the few who voiced their disagreement with allowing Allen to win the female title. Mason was recently named the No. 1 national university to watch by U.S. News & World Report, he said, and it should act like it.

“It’s really annoying,” said Bollinger, an ambassador for the admissions office. “Everyone was there. All eyes were on us. And we do something like this? It’s just stupid.”

The school’s own coverage of the competition, in the student newspaper Broadside, made little mention of Allen’s actual gender.  Following a week of widespread media coverage of the gender-bending choice, the controversy elicited only a short article in the school newspaper.

“I think people are making this into something much bigger than necessary.  I think it does not reflect badly on the school because it was just a matter of Ryan getting more of his friends to vote for him,” homecoming king Ricky Malebranche told the paper.

However, Malebranche added that Allen’s win “did show that Mason will hold true to being a diverse campus even when things become controversial and that to me is something to be proud of.”

In the newspaper’s opinion section, Allen was given a “thumbs up” for “being an outstanding representative of Mason.”

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, told that she believes the vote represented the “youthful rebellion” of college students who were unaware of what was at stake.

“It’s clear that young people nowadays do not understand the confusion associated with gender identity disorder, and what they intended as something to prove that they are ‘tolerant,’ they have instead validated a young man’s psychological confusion,” said Wright.


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