Always Bet on Progress: Nevada Crowns the First Transgender Miss USA Contestant

Written by | The Lens

The concept of role models seems quaint. Celebrities often fall short of our expectations, athletes succumb to human foibles, and our recent political leaders are festering garbage trolls.

But there is a last bastion of potential in the realm of aspirations. Meet Miss Nevada.

Kataluna Enriquez won the coveted title and now she is poised to compete for the Miss USA crown. If she wins, she will become only the second transgender woman to appear on the Miss Universe stage.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Enriquez explains, “As a transgender woman of color and a survivor of physical and sexual abuse, I am everything that is underrepresented in this country. Our voices matter. Those whose voices aren’t always heard deserve the chance to be heard.”

But gender still weighs upon the pageant circuit like a lead sash. While working her way up the Nevada ranks, Enriquez had to undergo a medical exam to prove she was a woman.

The indignity may have discouraged lesser participants, but it only fueled Miss Silver State’s ascension.

“I wanted to share my story and present that I was more than just a body,” Enriquez continues. “With pageantry, people think it is only about beauty. But it’s how you present yourself, what you advocate for, what you’ve done and the goals you have.”

Those goals include comprehensive charity work with organizations like The Pride Tree, a group that helps outfit transgender youth with the clothing that suits their gender expression.

Enriquez also volunteers with the TransPride Center to feed homeless LGBTQ+ individuals in Las Vegas. And now she’s taking her activism to the national stage.

“I had a purpose and I had a dream,” she tells NPR. “I wanted to compete on the Miss USA stage. 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.”

From groundbreaker to headline maker, Enriquez is eternally magnanimous in victory.

“My win is not just a win for the trans community,” she declares. “It’s a win for all women to be represented.”

There she is: Miss Everything. Congratulations, Kataluna Enriquez – we look forward to celebrating even more jewels in your triumphant tiara.

Photo: Instagram @photosbyben


Last modified: July 8, 2021