Miss Nevada crowns first transgender winner

The Miss Nevada pageant has crowned its first ever transgender winner, who will go on to compete for the title of Miss USA later this year.

Kataluna Enriquez, 27, was named Miss Nevada at Sunday’s pageant, which was held at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas.  

Next up, she’ll head to Oklahoma for the Miss USA contest on November 29, where she will also be the first trans woman to vie for the national title.

Ta-da! Kataluna Enriquez, 27, was named Miss Nevada at Sunday's pageant, which was held at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas

Ta-da! Kataluna Enriquez, 27, was named Miss Nevada at Sunday's pageant, which was held at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas

Ta-da! Kataluna Enriquez, 27, was named Miss Nevada at Sunday’s pageant, which was held at South Point hotel-casino in Las Vegas

What the future holds: Next up, she'll head to Oklahoma for the Miss USA contest on November 29, where she will also be the first trans woman to vie for the national title

What the future holds: Next up, she'll head to Oklahoma for the Miss USA contest on November 29, where she will also be the first trans woman to vie for the national title

What the future holds: Next up, she’ll head to Oklahoma for the Miss USA contest on November 29, where she will also be the first trans woman to vie for the national title

Standing tall: Kataluna, who was emigrated to the US at age 10, recalled facing discrimination in past pageants

Standing tall: Kataluna, who was emigrated to the US at age 10, recalled facing discrimination in past pageants

Standing tall: Kataluna, who was emigrated to the US at age 10, recalled facing discrimination in past pageants

Kataluna was born in the Philippines and moved to the US at age 10.

She first began competing in pageants in 2016 while working as a model, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing, and she revealed that one event went sour after the judges learned she was trans.

‘I was asked to provide documents that were invasive, in my opinion, physically asking me to get a letter from my doctor,’ she told They did let her compete, but wouldn’t assign her a roommate.

‘It brought me back to the time where I felt like I was not welcome,’ she said, calling it ‘humiliating.’

She won other pageants, though, including Queen California, Queen USA 2016, Super Sireyna WWUSA, an international transgender pageant called Queen of the Universe — and recently, the Miss Silver State USA preliminary pageant.

‘Miss Silver State was a great experience … to me it was honestly a celebration of womanhood and diversity and this celebration of being your true self,’ she said. 

Movin' on up! She qualified for Miss Nevada with a win in the Miss Silver State pageant

Movin' on up! She qualified for Miss Nevada with a win in the Miss Silver State pageant

Movin’ on up! She qualified for Miss Nevada with a win in the Miss Silver State pageant

'Miss Silver State was a great experience … to me it was honestly a celebration of womanhood and diversity and this celebration of being your true self,' she said

'Miss Silver State was a great experience … to me it was honestly a celebration of womanhood and diversity and this celebration of being your true self,' she said

‘Miss Silver State was a great experience … to me it was honestly a celebration of womanhood and diversity and this celebration of being your true self,’ she said

Overcoming: At one pageant, she said things went sour after the judges learned she was trans

Overcoming: At one pageant, she said things went sour after the judges learned she was trans

Overcoming: At one pageant, she said things went sour after the judges learned she was trans

'We think pageantry is for women who are slim, tall and have nice teeth, but I'm not just a body, I am also a person who struggles with mental health and I am a survivor,' she said

'We think pageantry is for women who are slim, tall and have nice teeth, but I'm not just a body, I am also a person who struggles with mental health and I am a survivor,' she said

‘We think pageantry is for women who are slim, tall and have nice teeth, but I’m not just a body, I am also a person who struggles with mental health and I am a survivor,’ she said

From there, she competed in Miss Nevada, where she beat out 21 other contestants.

‘Typically we think pageantry is for women who are slim, tall and have nice teeth, but I’m not just a body, I am also a person who struggles with mental health and I am a survivor,’ she wrote in an essay for ‘I grew up in poverty and have had to forge my own path. A lot of women share the same stories and I think we need to highlight that rather than focusing solely on beauty.’ 

Kataluna admitted she has had mixed reactions to her success, with friends and the LGBTQ+ community being supportive, but online trolls criticizing her. 

‘I’ve been told that I’m a sin and I’m taking something away from little girls,’ she said. ‘People have their opinions and when it comes to people calling me a man, it doesn’t hurt me. I’ve heard that so many times.’

'I think it's about time we see a trans person on the Miss USA stage and I'd like to make that history,' she said

'I think it's about time we see a trans person on the Miss USA stage and I'd like to make that history,' she said

‘I think it’s about time we see a trans person on the Miss USA stage and I’d like to make that history,’ she said

Sad: She used to cry herself to sleep, hoping she wouldn't wake up in the morning — but has since embraced a new outlook and just focuses on what makes her happy

Sad: She used to cry herself to sleep, hoping she wouldn't wake up in the morning — but has since embraced a new outlook and just focuses on what makes her happy

Sad: She used to cry herself to sleep, hoping she wouldn't wake up in the morning — but has since embraced a new outlook and just focuses on what makes her happy

Sad: She used to cry herself to sleep, hoping she wouldn't wake up in the morning — but has since embraced a new outlook and just focuses on what makes her happy

Sad: She used to cry herself to sleep, hoping she wouldn’t wake up in the morning — but has since embraced a new outlook and just focuses on what makes her happy

Exciting: If Kataluna wins the pageant in November, she will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant — where she will be the second-ever trans contestant

Exciting: If Kataluna wins the pageant in November, she will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant — where she will be the second-ever trans contestant

Exciting: If Kataluna wins the pageant in November, she will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant — where she will be the second-ever trans contestant

In fact, she said, she used to cry herself to sleep, hoping she wouldn’t wake up in the morning — but has since embraced a new outlook and just focuses on what makes her happy. 

‘Even now, people are still hurting or afraid to be their true selves, and I understand why they are afraid. That’s why we need to continue having discussions and sharing our stories and our authentic selves,’ she said.

‘I think it’s about time we see a trans person on the Miss USA stage and I’d like to make that history,’ she added.

If Kataluna wins the pageant in November, she will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant — where she will be the second-ever trans contestant.

The first was Angela Ponce, the 2018 Miss Spain.

Boundary breaker: The first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe pageant — where Kataluna will compete if she wins Miss USA — was Angela Ponce, the 2018 Miss Spain

Boundary breaker: The first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe pageant — where Kataluna will compete if she wins Miss USA — was Angela Ponce, the 2018 Miss Spain

Boundary breaker: The first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe pageant — where Kataluna will compete if she wins Miss USA — was Angela Ponce, the 2018 Miss Spain 

Aged 27 at the time, Angela was the first trans woman to rise to the top after the pageant reversed a long-standing policy that participants must be 'naturally born' women in 2012

Aged 27 at the time, Angela was the first trans woman to rise to the top after the pageant reversed a long-standing policy that participants must be 'naturally born' women in 2012

Aged 27 at the time, Angela was the first trans woman to rise to the top after the pageant reversed a long-standing policy that participants must be ‘naturally born’ women in 2012 

Incredible! She earned praise for her portrayal of a flamenco dancer during the national costume portion of the competition

Incredible! She earned praise for her portrayal of a flamenco dancer during the national costume portion of the competition

Incredible! She earned praise for her portrayal of a flamenco dancer during the national costume portion of the competition

Explaining her broad appeal, she said: 'Who hasn't suffered from prejudice? Who hasn't had to deal with bullying?'

Explaining her broad appeal, she said: 'Who hasn't suffered from prejudice? Who hasn't had to deal with bullying?'

Explaining her broad appeal, she said: ‘Who hasn’t suffered from prejudice? Who hasn’t had to deal with bullying?’ 

Aged 27 at the time, Angela was the first trans woman to rise to the top after the pageant reversed a long-standing policy that participants must be ‘naturally born’ women in 2012.

Explaining her broad appeal, she said: ‘Who hasn’t suffered from prejudice? Who hasn’t had to deal with bullying? 

‘You can empower yourself like I have and turn something negative into your biggest strength,’ she added. 

‘Outsiders say what I can and cannot do, what I am and what I am not,’ she said. ‘No, I’m sorry. To be a woman is your identity. It doesn’t matter if you are white, black, if you have a vagina… if you have a penis.’

‘I always say: having a vagina didn’t transform me into a woman. I am a woman, already before birth, because my identity is here,’ she told AFP, gesturing to her head.  

*

The first! In 2019, Miss Myanmar became the first-ever openly gay woman to compete in Miss Universe (pictured at the Miss Myanmar pageant in May 2019)

The first! In 2019, Miss Myanmar became the first-ever openly gay woman to compete in Miss Universe (pictured at the Miss Myanmar pageant in May 2019)

The first! In 2019, Miss Myanmar became the first-ever openly gay woman to compete in Miss Universe (pictured at the Miss Myanmar pageant in May 2019)

Making headlines: Swe Zin Htet, then 21, came out publicly just days before taking the stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on December 8, 2019

Making headlines: Swe Zin Htet, then 21, came out publicly just days before taking the stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on December 8, 2019

Making headlines: Swe Zin Htet, then 21, came out publicly just days before taking the stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on December 8, 2019 

Opening up: She came out as a lesbian in an interview with the beauty blog Missosology (pictured at the miss Myanmar pageant in May 2019)

Opening up: She came out as a lesbian in an interview with the beauty blog Missosology (pictured at the miss Myanmar pageant in May 2019)

Opening up: She came out as a lesbian in an interview with the beauty blog Missosology (pictured at the miss Myanmar pageant in May 2019)

In 2019, Miss Myanmar became the first-ever openly gay woman to compete in Miss Universe.

Swe Zin Htet, then 21, came out publicly just days before taking the stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on December 8, 2019. 

She came out as a lesbian in an interview with the beauty blog

Coming out publicly isn’t easy, she said, but she wants to use her platform to help LGBTQ people in Myanmar, a country also referred to as Burma.

‘It is personally quite challenging but I feel that I have a greater voice and the best position to promote this cause. Some pageant fans know about it and they still support me but this is the first time I am able to talk about it in public. 

‘I believe that not all countries allow same-sex marriage. I want the world to accept the LGBTQ+ community and their right to choose their own path and pursuit of happiness,’ she went on. 

Positive change: Coming out publicly isn't easy, she said, but she wants to use her platform to help LGBTQ people in Myanmar, a country also referred to as Burma

Positive change: Coming out publicly isn't easy, she said, but she wants to use her platform to help LGBTQ people in Myanmar, a country also referred to as Burma

Positive change: Coming out publicly isn’t easy, she said, but she wants to use her platform to help LGBTQ people in Myanmar, a country also referred to as Burma

'I want the world to accept the LGBTQ+ community and their right to choose their own path and pursuit of happiness,' she said

'I want the world to accept the LGBTQ+ community and their right to choose their own path and pursuit of happiness,' she said

‘I want the world to accept the LGBTQ+ community and their right to choose their own path and pursuit of happiness,’ she said

Meanwhile, the Miss Panama competition announced in March that it would allow transgender women ‘who have completed all their legal and medical procedures’ to enter from this year. 

The organization responsible for the contest said the decision has been made ‘after plenty of conversation and in line with the rules of the Miss Universe organization’.

Miss Universe requires that each national event allow people legally recognized as women to participate in that particular country. 

And now Miss Panama ‘will permit women officially legally recognized in the country,’ which will ‘open the door to transgender women who have completed all of their legal and medical procedures,’ the organization said. 

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