Photo courtesy of the TransNation Festival website.
For the past 15 years, Queen USA has been held during the TransNation Festival. This year will be the first year that the pageant has gone nationwide, bringing in contestants from all 50 states. Some pageants have allowed transgenders to compete before, but it is still a fight to determine whether or not the rules allow for it. Queen USA is all about highlighting the intelligence, beauty and talents of transgenders while also promoting awareness about transgender issues. (Read: 5 Titleholders Who Changed Pageantry Forever
Queen USA was founded by Karina Samala in 2001. Samala is a graduate of M.I.T. Phiippines with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering. Samala has also competed in and won numerous transgender beauty pageants. Some titles include Miss California Continental 1990, Miss Queen of the Universe 1991 and Miss Gay World 1995.
In order to compete in Queen USA, contestants must be 21 years of age, be a transgender or gender non-conforming individual, and be in good physical and mental health. They must also be able to travel and meet all obligations of the national titleholder, as well as be a supporter of transgender health and human rights.
During the competition, contestants will be judged on cocktail wear and presentation, swimwear, and evening wear. Contestants must wear a red cocktail dress no longer than knee length during the opening presentation. This is where they will introduce themselves and be judged on their personality, poise and personal style. In the swimwear competition, contestants may wear a one or two-piece suit of their choice. They will wear a long gown of their choice for evening wear.
The top 10 finalists will be chosen from the cumulative scores of those three areas of competition. The top 10 are then asked an on-stage question randomly drawn from a bowl. These questions are about transgender and TLGBQ issues and advocacies. (Read: Top 7 Onstage Questions from Miss America 2017
The contestants are then narrowed down to the top five. The top five are selected from the cumulative scores of all previous areas of competition. In the final question, the top five are given two minutes to speak with the judges on a topic they believe to be relevant, or they may speak about themselves.
The winner of the pageant will receive a $10,000 prize package. The 1st
Runner-up receives a $7,500 prize package, and the 2nd
Runner-up receives $5,000.
Judges at this year’s pageant will include Caitlyn Jenner and Kelly Osbourne. There will also be a performance by Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell.
The pageant will be held during the TransNation Festival on Saturday, October 22. All proceeds go to St. John’s Transgender Health Program and the Nicole Ramirez Scholarship Fund.