Miss Nevada to be first openly transgender Miss USA contestant

By Sarah Betancourt

A transgender woman who won the Miss Nevada USA pageant will soon become the first openly transgender Miss USA contestant.

On Sunday, Kataluna Enriquez beat 21 other contestants to win the crown. The 27-year-old took to Instagram the next day to celebrate. “Huge thank you to everyone who supported me from day one,” she wrote. “My community, you are always in my heart. My win is our win. We just made history. Happy pride.”

Donning a rainbow sequined gown she designed herself, Enriquez accepted the crown toward the end of Pride Month, and will compete in the Miss USA pageant in November.

The Filipina-American is a fashion designer and healthcare administrator. A biography on the Miss Silver State USA’s Instagram mentions Enriquez is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse who “aims to break barriers and represent those who aren’t always represented and continues to support numerous non-profit organizations and LGBTQ+ youth.”

The response to Enriquez’s progress has been largely effusive. Miss Nevada USA’s Instagram account sent over its congratulations, calling the win “historical”.

RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alexis Mateo said on Instagram “She did it! congratulations @mskataluna Miss Nevada USA. First Trans Woman winner on her way to Miss USA.”

Enriquez began competing in transgender pageants in 2016, and began competing in cisgender pageants in 2020. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal after her win, Enriquez said she wasn’t allowed to use either boys’ or girls’ restrooms, and faced bullying by her classmates over her gender identity.

“Growing up, I was often told that I was not allowed to be myself, or to be in spaces that I was not welcome,” she said. “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.”