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Miss USA Contestant Kataluna Enriquez, Who Is Trans, on Elimination: 'They Were Just Not Ready'

·2 min read
Kataluna Enriquez
Kataluna Enriquez

Bryan Steffy/Getty Images

Kataluna Enriquez is opening up about her elimination from the 2021 Miss USA pageant.

While speaking with Yahoo Life earlier this week, the 26-year-old beauty pageant contender — who became the first openly transgender Miss USA contestant — said that she was honored to be included in the contest and offered an explanation as to why she believes she was cut.

"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," Enriquez told the outlet.

When asked about not placing in the competition, Enriquez added, "I was shocked. But I was more disappointed because I worked so hard for it. I think they were just not ready."

Enriquez was eliminated from Miss USA on Monday before round 16 of the contest, according to Yahoo Life. The pageant ended up awarding its crown to Elle Smith, a reporter from Louisville, Kentucky, who will now go on to compete in the Miss Universe competition on Dec. 12 in Eilat, Israel.

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

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Kataluna Enriquez
Kataluna Enriquez

Bryan Steffy/Getty Images

RELATED: What to Know About Kataluna Enriquez, the First Transgender Woman to Be Crowned Miss Nevada USA

Earlier this year, Enriquez was crowned Miss Nevada after she beat 21 other contestants at a competition in Las Vegas, according to NBC News.

The Miss Universe series, which includes Miss USA, first began to allow transgender contestants to enter pageants back in 2012, the outlet reported.

Spain's Angela Ponce became the first transgender contestant at the global pageant event in 2018.

In March, Enriquez opened up about being a transgender contestant after she won a preliminary pageant in Nevada.

"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," she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I know that my uniqueness will take me to all my destinations, and whatever I need to go through in life."

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