Miss Kentucky Eliminates First Trans Contestant, Wins ‘Woke’ Miss USA Pageant

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The most woke Miss USA ever was held on Monday, crowning Miss Kentucky, Elle Smith, as the winner but eliminating the pageant’s first-ever transgender contestant early in the competition.

Smith, 23, was amazed at her big night, saying on Instagram: “A little over a year ago, I sat in bed and watched Miss USA. I remember watching … so many incredible women grace the stage and thinking, ‘I want to be on that stage. I want to be like them.’ … I made that dream reality.”

The 70th pageant was dubbed “Pageantry Reimagined” and the “wokest” Miss USA ever.

Smith, a journalist with WHAS11 News in Louisville, Kentucky, is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and was vice president of the school’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

One of the reasons the pageant was “the most woke ever” is the inclusion of the first trans contestant, Miss Nevada, Kataluna Enriquez, 27.

Miss Nevada USA 2021 Kataluna Enriquez, Miss USA's first transgender pageant winner, attends a celebration in her honor at The Garden Las Vegas on...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 23: Miss Nevada USA 2021 Kataluna Enriquez, Miss USA’s first transgender pageant winner, attends a celebration in her honor at The Garden Las Vegas on July 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images)

Enriquez claims to have transitioned at 14 after entertaining thoughts of suicide. Despite winning the title of Miss Silver State, Enriquez told NBC affiliate KVVU that it was a struggle to get there.

“I didn’t have the easiest journey in life. It was a struggle for a moment. I struggled with physical and sexual abuse. I struggled with mental health,” Enriquez said, adding, “Don’t let your differences determine what you’re capable of. Your differences is anything what makes you unique, and you are capable of anything as long as you believe in yourself.”

Still, Enriquez was eliminated before the final 16 were even chosen during the contest held at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Enriquez, though, was not the only first for the Miss USA Pageant. Amanda Torchia, 25, served as the first Afghan woman ever to represent the state of Connecticut.

Another contestant, Maine’s Veronica Bates, is a U.S. Air Force veteran.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.


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