Transgender contestant Kylan Wenzel vying for Miss California crown in Pasadena today
Today, Kylan Wenzel is one of 229 contestants onstage at the Pasadena Convention Center competing for the title of Miss California.
But Wenzel, 26, will have probably done more than any of the other contestants to get there.
Wenzel, a transgender woman, moved her sex reassignment surgery up by six months last year after the Miss Universe organization changed its rules to allow trans women to compete in its pageants.
‘The first time I watched a beauty pageant was when I was 11, in 1997, when Miss USA won Miss Universe. And ever since then, it’s kind of been implanted in my brain,’ Wenzel tells Frontiers magazine. ‘I wasn’t sure how it would happen for me, but it was something I put out there.’
Wenzel will try to survive Saturday’s preliminaries to become one of 20 contestants chosen to compete for the Miss California title on Sunday..
Whether or not she wins the crown, the Culver City resident has some words of wisdom to share about going after your dreams – especially if you are transgender.
‘You have to put it out to the universe—what you want to do—and you have to follow up on it,’ she says. ‘So, let’s say for transgender individuals, even if you haven’t had your sex change and you’re not sure, you have to act like you are Miss Universe or you are the woman you see yourself being. And you do that in everyday life. So I just worked really hard. I saved for surgery. I started getting procedures early like laser hair removal—things like that. It really is about believing in yourself. But you also need people to believe in you, because you can’t really get that far, sometimes, when you don’t have that kind of support.’
Among those supporters is Miss California pageant producer Keith Lewis who has high praise for the pageant’s first transgender contestant.
‘I so admire what Kylan’s doing, because she’s fought so hard to be here,’ Lewis says. ‘I think she will be successful in whatever she decides to do in her life. When we talked about her participating, she said, ‘I really just want the other girls to accept me.’ And I think they not only accept her but will celebrate her because she’s loving and she’s open and courageous and she’s trying to do the best she can, like pretty much all of the rest of us.’