Miss Maryland USA, an Asian American trans military wife, speaks out against hate

Miss Maryland USA, an Asian American trans military wife, speaks out against hate

Newly crowned Miss Maryland USA, a Cambodian American trans woman and a military wife, is speaking out against transphobic hate comments she received after winning her title.

Bailey Anne Kennedy, 31, who immigrated from Cambodia when she was 11, said she was inspired to compete in beauty pageants after last year Miss USA lifted restrictions on contestants who are married and over the age 28. She won the state’s title last week and celebrated the win Saturday at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Pride Parade. 

“Sometimes the underdog does win in the end,” Kennedy said in an Instagram post following her victory. 

Some on social media criticized Kennedy and the Miss USA organization, making transphobic remarks about her inclusion and saying she didn’t deserve to win over the pageant’s cisgender women. She addressed the comments in another Instagram post.

“Not everyone has to agree with the spaces that you occupy, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of these opportunities,” she wrote. “The work that I will do for the remainder of my life is to make sure that children who feel like me will never have to worry about the consequences of being who they are by simply being myself and being a positive contribution to society.”

Bailey Anne Kennedy smiles
Bailey Anne Kennedy.Edwin Shaw / Miss Maryland USA

Miss Maryland USA, which evaluates contestants on an interview, swimwear and evening gown portion, also posted a message in support of Kennedy and the trans community.  

“Since 2012, trans women have been welcomed into our organization,” the organization said. “Every person has the right to live authentically and pursue every opportunity, and we believe Bailey Anne embodies these values. … We see Bailey’s win as a win for everyone who dreamed the impossible dream.” 

According to a bio on her website, Kennedy is married to an active duty member of the U.S. Marine Corps. She says there that, after they got married, she thought she’d have to put her aspirations aside for good.

“I knew that my life would be forever changed,” she said. “I accepted the fact that his commitment to our country would always come first and any career aspirations of mine would be second.”

But she took Miss USA’s rule change last year as a “sign,” she said, and hopes to use the role to support other military families. 

Kennedy has also been vocal about her Cambodian heritage, sharing that she struggled to overcome language barriers when she first moved to the U.S. She said getting the crown is a true milestone.

“I kept getting so emotional all day because I knew it was bigger than me. I knew that it only took 67 years for married women to compete freely. Let alone to have an immigrant who happened to be bullied all of life for her accent and her different ways of doing things,” she said in a post.

For more from NBC Asian America, sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Sakshi Venkatraman

Sakshi Venkatraman is a reporter for NBC Asian America.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *