A teenager in New Hampshire has become the first transgender contestant to win a local Miss America Organization beauty pageant.
Brían Nguyen, 19, won Sunday night’s pageant to become “Miss Greater Derry 2023,” which awards the winner a crown, title and scholarship.
“In the 100 year history of Miss America, I have officially become the FIRST transgender titleholder within the Miss America Organization,” Nguyen announced on Instagram.
“No words can describe the feeling of having the opportunity to serve my community and represent my community for the very first time at Miss New Hampshire,” Nguyen continued. “I am so honored to be crowned your new Miss Greater Derry 2023, and I am thrilled to show you all what I have up my sleeves. This will be an amazing year.”
The Miss Greater Derry Scholarship Program, founded in 1986, provides “scholarships to young women between the ages of 17 and 24 living in the Greater Derry area recognizing their outstanding achievements in scholastic aptitude, talent, character, community service and poise,” according to its website.
The Miss Greater Derry Scholarship Pageant is also a preliminary event for the Miss New Hampshire Pageant and, ultimately, the Miss America Pageant.
While some on social media celebrated Nguyen’s win, others online heavily criticized the competition for “taking away” a scholarship meant for a “young woman.”
If this were a woman she would never even have made it past the entry process,” one critic said on Twitter.
Recently, a federal court ruled that the Miss United States of America pageant can’t be forced to include transgender contestants after a trans complainant filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination.
A rule of the Miss United States of America pageant is that contestants must be “natural-born females” and when the complainant reached out to the pageant and asked if that rule could be changed, the pageant allegedly declined.
“I don’t think someone shouldn’t be allowed to compete simply because they are transgender,” the complainant told NPR. “I think that that’s very arbitrary. Transgender women are equal to cisgender women. To me, pageantry isn’t just about the way a person looks. To me, it’s about giving people a voice.”
The federal court ruled that “Miss United States of America” has a First Amendment right to determine who competes in its pageants. Miss America competitions also don’t allow contestants to compete if they have previously posed nude or have been convicted of a felony. Also, contestants must be America Citizens.