Miss Nevada is first openly transgender Miss USA contestant

Kataluna Enriquez made history at the end of June when she was crowned Miss Nevada. The win makes her the first openly transgender contestant to compete in the Miss USA pageant, which will take place this fall.

Enriquez beat 21 other women for the top spot and will visit Tulsa, Okla. on November 29 to compete for the Miss USA crown. If crowned Miss USA, Enriquez will be the second transgender contestant to compete for Miss Universe, after Angela Ponce, who represented Spain in 2018. The pageant only began allowing transgender contestants in 2012.

Enriquez also made headlines for designing and making her own clothes, including the rainbow sequin gown she wore during her win. The timing was also perfect — she won on the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

“My win is our win,” she posted afterward on her Instagram. “We just made history. Happy pride.”

“When I was young, I always wanted to see someone on the Miss USA stage — someone like me. And it just happened to be that I was the person that I needed to make history,” Enriquez told NPR. “My win is not just a win for the trans community — it’s a win for all women to be represented.”

Enriquez’s success as a transgender woman of color is reminiscent of Arielle Keil, the 26-year-old transgender Filipina woman who was crowned Miss Intercontinental New Zealand in November 2020.

“To any queer person wanting to do beauty pageants, I would tell them to continue to be themselves unapologetically,” Keil told GMA. “Their entry is already doing so much for our community. Representation is vital, especially during these times of uncertainty.” 

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If you enjoyed reading this article, check out In The Know’s conversation with the first trans athlete to compete on an NCAA Division 1 men’s team.

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