Kataluna Enriquez is making history one sequined gown at a time. Enriquez, who was recently crowned Miss Nevada, will become the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Miss USA pageant this fall.
Enriquez won her state title on Sunday, beating out 21 other contestants to represent Nevada in the prestigious Miss USA pageant, scheduled for Nov. 29. Enriquez competed with a platform of raising awareness for the transgender community. She took to Instagram on Monday to thank both her supporters and the transgender community at large.
Take a look at that rainbow dress; Enriquez made it herself!
“Huge thank you to everyone who supported me from day one,” Enriquez wrote, “My community, you are always in my heart. My win is our win. We just made history. Happy pride.”
That’s not to say that the pageant circuit (and life in general) has always been roses for Enriquez.
“I didn’t have the easiest journey in life,” Enriquez told KVUU-TV, “It was a struggle for a moment. 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 Instagram account for Miss Nevada USA congratulated Enriquez on her win Monday, signaling changing times in the pageant world.
The Miss Universe system has allowed transgender women since 2012. If Enriquez wins the Miss USA pageant and advances to Miss Universe, she will become the second trans woman to compete in the pageant since Spain’s Angela Ponce in 2018.
As of 2018, the Miss America, a separate show and organization from Miss USA, was only open to “natural born women,” according to the Advocate.
In February, a federal judge upheld the right of another organization, Nevada-based Miss United States of America, to bar transgender contestants from its pageant.