Miss USA's first trans contestant 'shocked' by early elimination: 'They were just not ready'

·2 min read

Kataluna Enriquez, the first transgender contestant in the history of Miss USA, was "shocked" she was eliminated so early in the pageant.

Enriquez, a.k.a. Miss Nevada, spoke with Yahoo after being let loose before the final 16 were chosen.

"I was shocked. But I was more disappointed because I worked so hard for it," she said. "I think they were just not ready."

Still, the 28-year-old called it "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."

A representative for Miss USA did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

Miss Kentucky Elle Smith took home the crown and title of Miss USA at this year's ceremony, held Monday in Tulsa, Okla. She was followed by Miss North Dakota Caitlyn Vogel in second place, Miss Florida Ashley Carino in third, and Miss Illinois Sydni Bennett in fourth.

Enriquez, who's Filipino American, referred to herself as "a minority within a minority."

"I'm everything that's not represented in our country, and [ready] to create conversations around what it means to be an American," she said.

In the hours after being eliminated from Miss USA, Enriquez shared a statement on her Instagram page.

"One of the things that I am #grateful for is the friendship I have created with so many empowered and inspirational women," she wrote. "Going into the competition, I was prepared to face issues and conflicts because of our political climate and divide. I went in with pre-judgement of beliefs and attitude according to your state and I am so thankful that I was wrong."

She continued, "To every [woman] who approached me with welcomeness and those who took time to understand me, thank you. Thank you for giving me a chance to show you, and show the world another side of the story that isn't often told correctly. To every person who ever felt invisible or denied the chance to be their best self, this is for you. I am a living breathing example of what was impossible. Do not let expectations and socio standards stop you from living your truth and chasing your dreams."

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