'It was my dream since I was 11': Miss USA's first transgender contestant on her recent surgery and braving the swimsuit round
By OLIVIA FLEMING
PUBLISHED: 15:40 EST, 11 January 2013 | UPDATED: 15:47 EST, 11 January 2013
Kylan Wenzel, the first transgender woman to compete for the Miss USA crown, has revealed she has been waiting for this opportunity since she was 11 years old.
The 26-year-old is among 229 contestants participating in the preliminary Miss California round this weekend, and the first ever transgender contestant after Miss Universe changed its rules in April last year.
She told host Anderson Cooper on Anderson Live this morning: '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.'
Following international fallout in April 2012 when pageant officials disqualified Miss Canada Jenna Talackova after learning she was a transgender woman, Donald Trump and his Miss Universe Organization reversed the decision, allowing transgender women to compete for any of their pageant titles.
As soon as she learned of the rule change, Miss Wenzel left her job as a shift manager at Jamba Juice to pursue her life-long dream of entering the Miss California beauty pageant.
As a boy: Miss Welzel, who says she has always felt like a girl underwent sexual reassignment surgery in August, in time for the 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 Mr Cooper.
She admitted that she has 'always felt like a girl,' but that 'it took a little longer for me to process it.'
Miss Welzel's recovery time from her sexual reassignment surgery on August 23rd only recently ended, just in time for the pageant.
'I still do get a little aches but other than that I am doing really well,' she said.
As for whether she is nervous about Saturday's competition, she said: 'I am just excited. I am not nervous what so ever. I have been waiting for this day for a very long time so I can not just wait to see what happens in the finals.'
There will definitely be no holding back in her outfits, either.
'I think my strongest is actually going to be swim suit because I have been running and working out a lot,' she admitted.
'I am not nervous at all I am just hoping to experience the swim suit, the evening gown and the final question that way I have the whole experience.'
Miss Talackova, 23, who had the sexual reassignment surgery at the age of 19, sparked a heated gender debate in March after she was thrown out of the Miss Canada competition.
LGBT activists claimed the organisation was being discriminatory, and more than 20,000 people signed a virtual petition on Change.org demanding that she be re-instated.
Edited by bindy - Jan 11 2013 at 9:34pm