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.”
Last year, the Miss Universe Organization announced it was changing its rules and will allow transgender women to take part in all of its competitions starting in 2013.
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.