A star is born!
Kataluna Enriquez, who was recently crowned Miss Nevada USA, just made history as the first openly transgender woman to win the title. She will also become the first transgender woman to compete in the 2021 Miss USA pageant. The 27-year-old beauty queen won the competition on Sunday, June 27 at the South Point Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.
Making Kataluna’s trailblazing win all the more special? She earned the Miss Nevada title during Pride month. Taking to Instagram on Monday, June 28, she celebrated her victory with a heartwarming message.
“To my pageant mommy @rissrose2, no words can describe how much I am grateful of you,” Kataluna began her post, posing alongside her pageant coach and Miss Nevada Teen USA winner, Noelani Mendoza. “For your constant support, for welcoming me in to your home, and feeding me nothing but love.”
“Team @misssilverstate, you are all inspiring. your love, support and sisterhood has healed many years of struggle,” she continued. “My times and giggles with y’all never be replaceable.”
Along with shouting out her sponsors, Kataluna also took a moment to thank her fans for their love and support.
“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.”
Many congratulated the pageant queen on her win, including the Miss Nevada USA Instagram account.
“Good Morning W O R L D! The Universe rather…. Congratulations to @mskataluna for her historical win!!!” the organization shared, with RuPaul’s Drag Race star Alexis Mateo adding, “She did it! congratulations @mskataluna Miss Nevada USA. First Trans Woman winner on her way to Miss USA.”
“Kataluna Enriquez being crowned Miss Nevada is a huge win for trans visibility and sends a powerful, but simple message to the world: trans women are women,” GLAAD’s Head of Talent Anthony, Allen Ramos, said in part.
“I’m so proud of Kataluna’s trailblazing win especially as a fellow trans Filipina sister,” trans model Geena Rocero shared in a statement with E! News. “This win will open doors for all pageant system to continuously advocate for the inclusion of trans women in all pageants not just in America but all over the world.”
In a separate Instagram post, Kataluna revealed that her evening gown, which featured vibrant rainbow-colored sequins and diamond embellishments, was a design she made from her couture line. She detailed its significance, writing, “In honor of pride month, and all of those who don’t get a chance to spread their colors.”
This isn’t Kataluna’s only historical victory. According to NBC News, she became the first transgender woman crowned in the Miss Silver State USA pageant in March, which is the preliminary competition for Miss Nevada USA.
Following her win, Kataluna, who is Filipina American, opened up about her pageant journey in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Per the outlet, she originally participated in transgender pageants in 2016, but began competing in cisgender pageants at the beginning of 2020.
“I wanted to share my story and present that I was more than just a body,” she said. “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.”
She added, “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.”
The publication reported that during Kataluna’s Q&A portion of the Miss Silver State USA pageant, she discussed the challenges she’s faced over the years and how she’s persevered.
“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 answered. “One of the obstacles I encounter every day is just being true to myself. 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. And my differences is what makes me unique, and I know that my uniqueness will take me to all my destinations, and whatever I need to go through in life.”