Miss Nevada Kataluna Enriquez 1st transgender woman vying for Miss USA
LAS VEGAS - The Miss USA competition will see its first transgender woman compete for the crown after Kataluna Enriquez won the Miss Nevada title Sunday.
Enriquez, 27, is also the first transgender woman to win the Miss Nevada title. She beat 21 other contestants to represent Nevada in the Miss USA pageant that will be held on Nov. 29.
"Huge thank you to everyone who supported me from day one," she posted on her Instagram page. "My community, you are always in my heart. My win is our win. We just made history. Happy pride."
"I have been waiting for this moment for this goal, and it’s been my goal for almost five years and I’m glad it finally came true," Enriquez told KVVU. "I did not give up."
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Enriquez told the outlet that she competed in another state but suffered discrimination because she was transgender. She said she wasn’t given a roommate and had to have a doctor certify that she was a woman, according to the media outlet.
"I often felt alone and misunderstood," she told KVVU.
The outlet reported that she started transitioning when she was 14 years old after battling thoughts of suicide. Enriquez, who is Filipino-American, has faced online criticism for her endeavors, but she hopes her story will inspire others.
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"We’re still in a time where people are being attacked, and trans women of color specifically are being murdered throughout the country and all over the world," she added.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Enriquez first took part in transgender pageants in 2016 when she was working as a model.
If Enriquez advances to the Miss Universe pageant, she would not be the first transgender woman to compete. Angela Ponce of Spain competed for the title in 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. The story was reported from Los Angeles.