For the first time in the history of the Miss America organization, a transgender teenager in New Hampshire won a local pageant qualifying him to compete in the state pageant and ultimately for the Miss America national crown. Brían Nguyen, a 19-year-old biological man, won the Miss Greater Derry 2023 pageant that comes with a crown, the title, and a scholarship, WPDE-TV reported. According to the outlet, 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.” The station took the information directly from the Greater Miss Derry website which has since been removed.
Nguyen announced his win in an Instagram post. Social media users responded wondering how Nguyen was allowed to participate in a competition for young women. “How absolutely ridiculous,” one Twitter user wrote. “And a scholarship was up for grabs. Another thing he’s robbed from a woman,” another user wrote. “If this sounds the death knell for women’s beauty pageants, good.” And another user wrote, “Seriously!! The only reason that ‘she’ won was because he is trans. If an actual female presented like ‘she’ did they would not win.” The news of the biological male’s win in the New Hampshire local beauty pageant comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled earlier that a separate beauty pageant association could exclude a transgender “female” (i.e., a male) from participating in its contests.
A rule of the Miss United States of America (Miss USA) pageant allows only “natural born females” to compete in its competitions. In a commentary for The Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal, Sarah Parshall Perry wrote “the decision was a major win for the First Amendment right to be free from compelled speech.” “In Green v. Miss United States of America, LLC, transgender activist Anita Green claimed that the pageant’s policy of allowing only ‘natural born’ women to compete violated Oregon’s anti-discrimination law, called the Oregon Public Accommodations Act. That law prohibits discrimination on account of, among other things, sex or sexual orientation in places of public accommodation,” Perry explained. “Like the trial court, the appeals court rejected Green’s argument, explaining that beauty pageants, as a type of theatrical production, enjoy the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech or expressive conduct,” she continued.
Writing for the 2-1 majority, Judge Lawrence VanDyk described Miss U.S.A.’s message: “Someone viewing the decision to exclude transgender women (and cisgender males) from a beauty pageant would likely understand that the pageant organizers wished to convey some message about the meaning of gender and femininity and would probably also grasp the specific implication that the pageant organizers did not believe transgender women qualified as female.” “As the battle over preferred pronouns and compelled speech picks up, the legal victory of the Miss United States of America pageant undoubtedly will shape such cases in the future,” Perry wrote. Other rules concerning the qualifications for contestants in a Miss USA pageant: They are also forbidden to compete if they have previously posed nude or have been convicted of a felony. All of the women competing must be American citizens.
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