Kataluna Enriquez recently made history as the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Nevada.
“Ultimately, it was one of those things that, when I was young, I had hoped to see someone on the stage who was just like me and who could represent me,” Enriquez said, according to USA Today. “It just happened that I needed to be that person.”
Enriquez immigrated from the Philippines when she was 10 and now owns her own fashion business and designs costumes and evening gowns. She’ll spend the next several months preparing to compete for Miss USA in November.
Growing up, pageant shows were very inspirational for her at a time when her family was struggling to make money to put food on the table, Enriquez said. But pageantry isn’t just superficial beauty, it’s expanding the definition of beauty and the definition of womanhood.
“To be able to win and to achieve this and to be represented is a big deal, not just for the trans community or the LGBTQ+ community, but for people of color—people who are minorities who don’t often get represented,” Enriquez said, according to USA Today. “I was a woman who was a physical and sexual abuse victim, and I’m a survivor. That is also a representation for those communities as well.”
Enriquez doesn’t respond to negative comments because she knows she did her part and “fought for the crown.”
“There are things in life that I’ve experienced that I don’t want other people to experience,” she said, according to USA Today. “I think with that mindset … and I’m able to go through with it and push through it.