Trailblazer Kataluna Enriquez battled depression, transitioned at 14, and won over America

At a young age, Kataluna Enriquez fought multiple challenges in her life. Here's how she rose above it

                            Trailblazer Kataluna Enriquez battled depression, transitioned at 14, and won over America
Kataluna Enriquez's life has not been easy (@mskataluna/Instagram)

Growing up, Kataluna Enriquez was often told that she was not allowed to be herself. "One of the obstacles I encounter every day is just being true to myself," she recently said. The 27-year-old won the Miss Nevada title on Sunday, June 27, 2021. The victory is a landmark event as Enriquez is the first transgender woman to win a competition in pageant history, beating 21 other contestants to win the crown of Miss Nevada USA.

But the journey was not an easy one for the first transgender titleholder. At a young age, Kataluna fought multiple challenges in her life, according to her short bio on Miss Silver State USA's Instagram. But that didn't deter her - it only made her stronger; and now she uses her life experiences and shares them on her platform.


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Enriquez was born a male and reportedly started her transitioning to a woman at the age of 14 after battling thoughts of suicide. Apart from that, not a lot is known about her childhood. Except that she had once taken to Instagram to write about it. 

In a post she had shared on her Instagram, Enriquez spoke about the difficulties she had to face. "Note to younger self: You will have many battles in life from the day that you are born. You will be laughed at, bullied, discriminated and outcasted for simply being different. Know that what they weaponized against you will one day be your glory," she wrote, adding, "Your differentness is your power, and will someday be the very reason to all your success. 🦋"


Enriquez had reportedly also said that she would dress as a girl in school but would change back to sweatpants while returning home. 

But Enriquez only built herself bit by bit from there. "I have been waiting for this moment for this goal, and it’s been my goal for almost five years and I’m glad it finally came true," Enriquez told KVVU. "I did not give up." She also told the publication, "I often felt alone and misunderstood."

In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, she said, "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. And my differences is what makes me unique, and I know that my uniqueness will take me to all my destinations, and whatever I need to go through in life."


As per the publication, Enriquez had participated in transgender pageants in 2016, when she was working as a model, but began competing in cisgender pageants at the beginning of 2020.

"I wanted to share my story and present that I was more than just a body," she said. "With pageantry, people think it is only about beauty. But it's how you present yourself, what you advocate for, what you've done and the goals you have." She added, "One thing that is important for me is inclusivity, diversity and representation. It's something I did not have growing up and is still lacking in today's world."

She now hopes that her story will inspire others. "We’re still in a time where people are being attacked, and trans women of color specifically are being murdered throughout the country and all over the world," she said. 

Speaking about her struggles, she said, "I didn’t have the easiest journey in life. It was a struggle for a moment. I struggled with physical and sexual abuse. I struggled with mental health. I didn’t have much growing up. I didn’t have support. But I’m still able to thrive, and I’m still able to survive and become a trailblazer for many." Enriquez added, "Don’t let your differences determine what you’re capable of. Your differences is anything what makes you unique, and you are capable of anything as long as you believe in yourself."

Enriquez will now compete for the Miss USA title in November.