via Instagram (mskataluna)

Kataluna Enriquez To Become First-Ever Transgender Contestant Competing in Miss USA

In another historic example of inclusion and representation, newly crowned Miss Nevada Kataluna Enriquez will become the first-ever transgender pageant winner to compete for the Miss USA title.

Dan Avery of NBC News reported on Enriquez’s win at the Miss Nevada pageant on Sunday, June 27, a precursor to the national Miss USA pageant. She won the Miss Nevada title with a platform centered around issues of transgender awareness and mental health. 

“My win is our win. We just made history. Happy Pride,” Enriquez announced on Instagram after her crowning.

“I didn’t have the easiest journey in life,” Enriquez later said in an interview with KVVU-TV. “I struggled with physical and sexual abuse. I struggled with mental health. I didn’t have much growing up. I didn’t have support. But I’m still able to thrive, and I’m still able to survive and become a trailblazer for many.”

“The Miss Nevada USA organization congratulated Enriquez for her historic win on social media and shared the hashtag #BeVisible,” Avery reported. 

During the challenging question-and-answer portion of the pageant, Enriquez admitted that maintaining her pride and drive is a challenge she faces and embraces daily — especially as a Filipina American.

“Today, I am a proud transgender woman of color. Personally, I’ve learned that my differences do not make me less than; it makes me more than,” she told the judging panel. “I know that my uniqueness will take me to all my destinations and whatever I need to go through in life.”  

“The Miss Universe pageant system, of which Los Angeles-based Miss USA is part, began allowing transgender entrants in 2012,” Avery said. “If she is crowned Miss USA, Enriquez will be the second trans contestant in a Miss Universe pageant, after Spain’s Angela Ponce in 2018.”

Miss America, which is a separate competition held by a different organization, has not yet announced whether there will be any changes allowing transgender and nonbinary individuals to compete within its pageant in the future. Historically, the contest has been limited to “natural-born women.”

A third competition, Miss United States of America, won a suit in February, allowing it to bar transgender contestants from pageant participation.

The 2021 Miss USA competition will take place on Nov. 29 at the Paradise Cove Theater at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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