“In the 100 year history of Miss America, I have officially become the FIRST transgender titleholder within the Miss America Organization,” Brían Nguyen announced on Instagram after she was crowned “Miss Greater Derry 2023.”
“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,” she added. “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.”
Nguyen, 19, is a freshman at Nashua Community College majoring in business management. “I hope to use my degree so that I can create sustainable, ethical, and inclusive products such as clothing, cosmetics, and accessories,” she said in an Instagram post. “I also hope to continue to grow my career in the modeling and social media industry.”
As an influencer with over 3,000 followers on Instagram and 43,000 followers on TikTok, Nguyen started a social media movement called #QueensAreEverywhere, which aims to help young people “develop self-confidence, realize their potential, and become the leaders of their destiny.”
In addition to being awarded a title and crown, Nguyen will also receive a scholarship as part of the Miss Greater Derry Scholarship Program, which was founded in 1986 to provide “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 their website.
The Miss Greater Derry Scholarship Pageant serves as a preliminary event for the Miss New Hampshire Pageant and the national Miss America Pageant.
Despite the historic win for Nguyen and the transgender community as a whole, Miss Greater Derry 2023 may not even be eligible to enter the Miss United States of America pageant, should she have the opportunity. A recent federal court ruling determined that the Miss United States of America competition has a First Amendment right to choose who competes in its pageants and that it cannot be forced to include transgender contestants.
A trans complainant filed a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination. “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.”
Under the rules as they currently stand, Miss United States of America contestants must be “natural-born females” who are American citizens and have not previously posed nude or been convicted of a felony.
As a woman from several marginalized communities, Nguyen understands the importance of people like her being visible on the pageant stage. After competing in the World’s Perfect Miss pageant, she wrote on her Instagram, “Every step on that stage is a step for representation for the plus sized and transgender community. Even though I was the only girl to represent these communities, I know that I have made a change today even if it was small. Representation is ever growing, and I know that I won’t stop fighting for representation in this industry.”