Kataluna Enriquez made history Sunday when she was crowned Miss Nevada 2021 and, with the win, qualified for the Miss USA contest, the first transgender woman to accomplish either feat. The 2021 Advocate Champion of Pride took home the Miss Nevada 2021 title wearing a rainbow-themed gown of her own design in honor of Pride Month, and she now moves on to compete in the Miss USA contest in November.
"Huge thank you to everyone who supported me from day one," Enriquez posted to Instagram after the win. "My community, you are always in my heart."
Enriquez, 27, took home the crown Sunday night at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas after besting 21 other contestants in three areas of competition: interview, swimsuit/activewear, and evening gown. There is no talent portion of the event, and, according to Miss Nevada rules and regulations, judging criteria is based on character, poise, confidence, and personality.
An accomplished designer with her own Kataluna Kouture line of gowns (@katalunakouture), Enriquez regularly designs the pieces she takes to competitions.
"I did not always have money and it’s hard for women to find dresses that fit their bodies," Enriquez was quoted by the Las Vegas Review Journal. "Pageantry is so expensive and I wanted to compete and be able to grow and develop skills and create gowns for myself and other people."
With the win, Enriquez moves on to the Miss USA pageant, which is set to take place at River Spirit Casino Resort's Paradise Cover Theater in Tulsa, Oklahoma this November. The current 2020 Miss USA winner, Asya Branch, will be on hand to crown her successor. The winner of the Miss USA competition will then move on to represent the United States at the Miss Universe competition. Enriquez is the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Nevada and Miss USA contests, and the first to win the Miss Nevada event. If she wins the Miss USA crown as well (another first), she will be only the second transgender contestant in the Miss Universe competition. Spain’s Angela Ponce was the first transgender woman to compete in a Miss Universe contest in 2018.
Sunday’s victory and coronation garnered Enriquez global praise, including from Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan, who celebrated her trans Pinay sister in a tweet.
Earlier this year, Enriquez was selected as a 2021 Champion of Pride by Out's sister publication The Advocate. At the time, she said she was keenly aware of how her visibility provides her with both a platform and a responsibility.
"I use my platform and work to advocate for many causes and to help bridge the gap of our communities," Enriquez told The Advocate.