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Bailey Anne Kennedy makes history as the first trans Miss Maryland USA

Bailey Anne Kennedy crowned first transgender Miss Maryland USA
instagram @baileyannekennedy

"I knew that it was going to mean a lot for all the LGBTQ kids out there who might feel like they don’t belong in a box — like me growing up," she says.

Bailey Anne Kennedy, the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Maryland USA, hopes her achievement will inspire young LGBTQ+ people.

Her win, which came Saturday, was a “whirlwind because I knew it was bigger than me,” she told Washington, D.C., TV station WDCW Wednesday. “I knew that it was going to mean a lot for all the LGBTQ kids out there who might feel like they don’t belong in a box — like me growing up.”

Kennedy, who is Cambodian American, is the first Asian American to win the title and the first military spouse as well. She will compete for the Miss USA crown in Los Angeles; the contest will air August 4.

She hopes her win “will open up some doors, open up some hearts for people to see that there are many aspects of LGBT community out there, and I hope I can be a positive contribution to society in making a difference like the USO program like I’m working with,” she said.

There has been at least one other state-level winner in the Miss USA pageant, which leads up to the Miss Universe competition. Kataluna Enriquez was Miss Nevada USA in 2021. The pageant has allowed trans contestants for over a decade. Spain sent a trans competitor, Angela Ponce, to Miss Universe in 2018. Both were the first to hold their respective titles.

Kennedy said she felt supported by the “sisterhood” of women who competed for Miss Maryland USA. “I felt confident in my own skin at 31, which is past the old age limit, which is 28 — as you know, Miss Universe Organization lifted the restriction now — so every woman of all ages can compete,” she added. Her platform is “Beauty Without an Expiration Date.”

Kennedy also posted about her accomplishment on Instagram. "Not everyone has to agree with the spaces that you occupy, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of these opportunities," she wrote. "The work that I will do for the remainder of my life is to make sure that children who feel like me will never have to worry about the consequences of being who they are by simply being myself and being a positive contribution to society."

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Trudy Ring