A biological male who identifies as female, Kataluna Enriquez, was crowned Miss Nevada USA on Sunday, becoming the first transgender — and first biologically male — contestant to take the crown.
Enriquez, who made history back in March after being crowned Miss Silver State USA — the first time a transgender individual won that beauty pageant — snagged the crown during the annual pageant at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Enriquez has yet to speak about Sunday night’s win but told a local Las Vegas news station back in March that the Miss Silver State USA win was a “celebration of womanhood,” despite Enriquez being biologically male.
“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,” Enriquez told Vegas’ Fox affiliate, per the Daily Wire.
Although Enriquez competed for Nevada’s top title, most out-of-state pageants are closed to transgender individuals, Enriquez said and required Enriquez to turn in proof of gender transition.
“I was asked to provide documents that were invasive, in my opinion, physically asking me to get a letter from my doctor,” Enriquez told the network, adding that the pageant that asked for documentation eventually relented, allowing Enriquez to compete, but gave the pageant competitor a solo hotel room. “It brought me back to the time where I felt like I was not welcome.”
Enriquez’s platform is, of course, transgender visibility.
“Growing up, I was often told that I was not allowed to be myself, or to be in spaces that I was not welcome,” the contestant said in response to a question about transgenderism during the Miss Silver State pageant. “One of the obstacles I encounter every day is just being true to myself. Today I am a proud transgender woman of color.”
Although Enriquez took the Miss Nevada USA title — which would typically give Enriquez the right to compete for both Miss USA and Miss Universe — it is not clear whether the Miss USA pageant is currently open to transgender contestants.
Back in February, a federal court ruled that the Miss USA pageant could bar biological males — or any contestant that is not a “natural born female” — from competing in its annual pageant, regardless of whether they self-identify as or have transitioned to female, noting that “that the pageant had shown it was an ‘expressive’ organization that seeks to promote a specific message, rather than one devoted to making money,” according to WWeek. “That distinction means Miss United States of America can exclude people if their participation wouldn’t be congruent with that message.”
“In a society where women receive fewer opportunities than men, women deserve a platform to compete, to speak, and to be celebrated,” the Miss USA pageant argued in its brief. “[Miss USA] provides this platform through its beauty pageant—a competition where women express themselves, build confidence, and vie for the crown of Miss United States of America before a live audience. But [Miss USA] cannot accept everyone into its pageant to achieve its goals.”
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