The newly crowned Miss Silver State USA, Kataluna Enriquez, will be the first trans woman of colour to compete in the Miss Nevada USA pageant – and if she wins, could go on to Miss USA.
Kataluna Enriquez has won trans pageants before, but it’s her first win in a mainstream contest. During the competition, Enriquez was asked to describe an obstacle she has faced and is overcoming.
“Growing up, I was often told that I was not allowed to be myself, or to be in spaces that I was not welcome. One of the obstacles I encounter every day is just being true to myself,” she replied.
“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. And my differences are what make me unique, and I know that my uniqueness will take me to all my destinations, and whatever I need to go through in life.”
Miss Silver State USA, which Kataluna Enriquez recently won, is the biggest preliminary competition to Miss Nevada USA, the state pageant that leads to Miss USA and Miss Universe. In 2018, Miss Universe had a trans contestant of its own – Angela Ponce, from Spain.
“Miss Silver State was a great experience … to me it was honestly a celebration of womanhood and diversity and this celebration of being your true self,” Enriquez told FOX5.
But before this, Enriquez had faced discrimination at pageants. In one, outside Nevada, everything changed when the organisers discovered that she is trans.
“I was asked to provide documents that were invasive in my opinion physically asking me to get a letter from my doctor,” Enriquez said. She was also forced to undergo a medical examination to “prove” she’s female, and was the only competitor not to be assigned a roommate at that pageant. “I felt like I was not welcome,” Enriquez said.
She entered Miss Silver State USA disclosing she was trans from the outset, and faced no issues. Now, she’s looking ahead.
“I have a great feeling about Nevada … I am looking forward to it,” Enriquez said.
Miss USA and Miss Universe were owned by former US president Donald Trump for almost two decades, before his racist comments about Mexican people in 2015 caused advertisers to pull out and forced him to sell the Miss Universe Organisation.
Trump’s tenure at the top of the largest and most famous pageants in the world was plagued by allegations of “creepy” behaviour from the businessman.