A transgender woman has won the Miss Nevada USA title for the first time in the pageant’s history. Kataluna Enriquez now advances to represent the state in the national Miss USA competition scheduled for November 29.
Enriquez beat out 21 women for the designation, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
“One thing that is important for me is inclusivity, diversity and representation. It’s something I did not have growing up and is still lacking in today’s world,” said Enriquez. “Today I am a proud transgender woman of color. Personally, I’ve learned that my differences do not make me less than, it makes me more than.”
Enriquez has participated in transgender pageants since 2016, but only started entering in female-only pageants as of last year.
Enriquez’s achievement comes as a heated debate over the fairness of allowing transgender individuals to compete in sex-specific sporting events consumes many Republican-dominated states, public schools, and the nation at large. Those in favor of barring transgender competitors from athletics reserved for women argue that transitioned people still retain their physical advantages from undergoing puberty over their biologically female counterparts, making the playing field unequal.
Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was recently selected to compete in the women’s super-heavyweight category at the summer Olympic games in Tokyo, as Hubbard’s testosterone levels met the required criteria of the International Olympic Committee.
While beauty pageants differ from sports in that they mainly judge for aesthetics, physical features, and other skills, Enriquez’s first-place prize in Nevada will likely bring this new domain for transgender-inclusion policy into the limelight, triggering scrutiny and intensified criticism from opponents.
Enriquez’s entry as Miss Nevada has a precedent in 2018, when transgender woman Angela Ponce, competing as Miss Spain, was featured in the Miss Universe contest, marking the first for the event.