Kataluna Enriquez. (Instagram)
A trans woman has been crowned Miss Nevada USA for the first time in the pageant’s 69-year-long history.
At the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas on Sunday (27 June), Kataluna Enriquez became the first openly trans Miss Nevada winner, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The 27-year-old had donned a hand-made shimmering rainbow sequin dress to celebrate Pride Month for the ceremony after beating out 21 other candidates.
She will represent Nevada at the upcoming Miss USA pageant, to be held 29 November.
“My community, you are always in my heart,” she said after securing the crown on Instagram.
“My win is our win. We just made history. Happy Pride.”
Enriquez suffered years of abuse in high school for being trans, barred from using the school bathrooms and bullied by her classmates. Years later, a resilient Enriquez entered into beauty competitions in 2016 while working as a model.
Now, she will be the first openly trans woman to compete for the Miss USA title – and if she wins she’ll become the second trans woman to vie for the Miss Universe crown after Spain’s Angela Ponce in 2018.
Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan congratulated Enriquez on her history-making win. “Our trans Pinay sister, Kataluna Enriquez, made history today!” she tweeted.
OUR TRANS PINAY SISTER, KATALUNA ENRIQUEZ, MADE HISTORY TODAY! SHE WON MISS NEVADA 2021.
She will be the first trans woman to compete at the Miss USA Pageant! Yaaaaassss! Mabuhay ka, Sis Kataluna Enriquez! 👸🏾🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈🇵🇭❤️ pic.twitter.com/HRt4b3w2tM
— Mela Habijan (@missmelahabijan) June 28, 2021
“She won Miss Nevada 2021. She will be the first trans woman to compete at the Miss USA Pageant!”
After Enriquez won Miss Silver State USA in March, she reflected on what the title not only means to her but the countless trans Americans tuning in.
“One thing that is important for me is inclusivity, diversity and representation,” she said at the time, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported at the time.
“It’s something I did not have growing up and is still lacking in today’s world.
“Today I am a proud transgender woman of colour. Personally, I’ve learned that my differences do not make me less than, it makes me more than.”
But above all, Enriquez explained on Instagram, she knows how vital it is for trailblazers such as herself to break through.
“Because of hate, people would rather die than be who they are,” she wrote in a post that reflected on the hateful comments she receives.
“I was one of them. But I am no longer a victim, I am a warrior. “