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First openly transgender Miss USA contestant eliminated before round of 16

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The first openly transgender Miss USA contestant, Kataluna Enriquez, was eliminated before the round of 16 on Monday in the beauty contest, NBC News reported.

Earlier this year, Enriquez was crowned Miss Nevada after she beat out 21 other contestants at the South Point Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. 

Enriquez then went on to compete in the Miss USA pageant in Tulsa, Okla., at the River Spirit Casino Resort, but her journey to the crown ended early before the round of 16, according to NBC News.

The Miss Universe system, which includes Miss USA, began allowing transgender contestants to enter pageants in 2012, according to the outlet. 

Before her exit from the pageant, Enriquez received kind words from leaders in her home state who mentioned her historic entry into the event.  

“Kataluna represents the best of her community and our state and when she takes the stage, she’ll make history!” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) wrote in a tweet. 

“Best of luck to Miss Nevada, Kataluna Enriquez, as she competes for the Miss USA title this evening!,” Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) said in a tweet

“Kataluna is making history as the first openly transgender woman to compete in Miss USA, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to represent the Silver State.”

Elle Smith, a reporter from Louisville, Ky., won the contest on Monday. 

“WOW!!! This is quite the accomplishment!!,” ABC affiliate WHAS said in a tweet. “Our Elle Smith is your new MISS USA!”

Enriquez, who is of Filipino descent, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in March that she is proud to be a transgender woman of color. 

“Today I am a proud transgender woman of color. Personally, I’ve learned that my differences do not make me less than, it makes me more than,” Enriquez said. “I know that my uniqueness will take me to all my destinations, and whatever I need to go through in life.”

Tags Jacky Rosen Las Vegas LGBTQ Miss Universe Pageant Miss USA Nevada Steve Sisolak transgender women
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