Miss USA's first transgender contestant, Kataluna Enriquez, was excited to be a symbol of hope for an underrepresented community in the pageant, so when her ambition was cut short after being eliminated from the pageant before the round of 16, she was disappointed.
In the end, the crown went to Miss Kentucky Elle Smith, who will be competing in Miss Universe, which is set to take place on Dec. 12 in Eilat, Israel. Commenting on the pageant, Enriquez told Yahoo Life that she was happy to just be a part of the event.
"It was an honor just to be able to represent my community and be an example for young queer children who now know they don't need to be limited by society's standards," she said. Not placing in the pageant did come as a bit of a shock to her, but Enriquez admitted she was mostly just disappointed because she "worked so hard for it."
"I think they were just not ready," she added.
Enriquez made history in June when she was crowned Miss Nevada USA. Until that day, a transgender woman had never won the pageant before.
"Huge thank you to everyone who supported me from day one," Enriquez wrote in an Instagram post at the time. "My community, you are always in my heart. My win is our win. We just made history. Happy pride."
What made her win even more special was that it afforded her the opportunity to represent two minorities.
"I'm a trans woman of color, a minority within a minority," Enriquez, who is Filipino, told Yahoo Life at the time. "I"m everything that's not represented in our country, and [ready] to create conversations around what it means to be an American."
Looking back at her experience competing in Miss USA, Enriquez admitted she was disappointed by the questions she was asked during the closed-door interview portion of the contest. While others in the competition were asked to comment on various topics, Enriquez said her interview was "solely" on her transitioning.
"It was disappointing to me because I had so much more to offer, I had so much I wanted to talk about … Others were asked about politics, climate change, so it was highly disappointing for me because I expected more," she said. "It's OK because we made an impact," she added. "And I received a lot of support and love on social media."
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