Among the 229 contestants competing for the title of Miss California USA will be Kylan Arianna Wenzel, a 26-year-old transgender woman from Century City, Calif.
Wenzel will be the first ever transgender contestant after the Miss Universe Organization changed its rules in April last year — Miss Universe operates the Miss USA pageant, and the local pageants that determine the state delegates.
Appearing on “Anderson Live” on Friday, Wenzel told host Anderson Cooper, “This has been a dream since I was 11. So I kind of just put it out to the universe and hoping it would happen. And then it happened.”
The announcement came in response to a controversy when transgender contestant Jenna Talackova was disqualified from competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada because she was not a “naturally born female.”
When she learned of the rule change, Wenzel said she left her job as a shift manager at Jamba Juice to pursue her life-long dream of entering the Miss California beauty pageant.
“I moved my surgery up six months, I resigned from my job. Ever since then I’ve been just working on hoping to become Miss California,” she told Cooper.
Following is a clip from Wenzel’s appearance on “Anderson Live:”
Preliminary competition in for the Miss California USA title begins tomorrow, when the 229 contestants will be narrowed to 20 semifinalists who will compete in Pasadena on Sunday.