Meet the First Transgender Miss USA Contestant

Kataluna Enriquez was just crowned Miss Nevada in another first
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2021 1:00 PM CDT

For the first time in the history of the Miss Nevada pageant, an openly transgender woman has nabbed the crown. Kataluna Enriquez bested 21 other women to become the first openly transgender Miss Nevada at a ceremony at the South Point Hotel Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday, per USA Today. The title brings another first. Enriquez, a Filipina American clothing designer who accepted her crown in a stunning rainbow sequin gown she created herself in honor of Pride Month, will now be the first openly trans woman to compete in the Miss USA pageant in Tulsa, Okla., on Nov. 29, per NBC News. "I have always said I hope to see one day that someone like me is represented in Miss USA," the 27-year-old, who won the Miss Silver State USA pageant in March, tells the Washington Post. But "I never thought that it would be me."

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that another pageant organization, Miss United States of America, had the right to exclude transgender contestants after it barred Anita Noelle Green in 2019. Green congratulated Enriquez on her win, acknowledging the "historic moment for the trans community," per the Post. The Miss USA pageant falls under the Miss Universe umbrella, which has allowed transgender competitors since 2012. "Don't let your differences determine what you are capable of," Enriquez tells KVVU, noting she's struggled with mental health issues and physical and sexual abuse during her life. She was bullied as a high schooler and barred from using either the boys’ or girls’ bathrooms, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "But I'm still able to thrive ... and become a trailblazer for many," Enriquez tells KVVU. (More Miss USA stories.)

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