She’s 31. She’s married to a military officer. She’s Asian-American. And she’s a trans woman.

When Bailey Anne Kennedy was crowned on Saturday as Miss Maryland USA, she broke almost every barrier that existed in the state’s pageant history. And she did it with her first pageant.

Now she will go on to make additional history as she vies to become the oldest and first trans Miss USA when she competes in Los Angeles on Aug. 4. Previously women over the age of 28 were not allowed to compete in the pageant. Trans women have been allowed to compete for the past decade.

Neither Kennedy nor Miss Maryland USA organizers could immediately be reached for comment.

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In a recent interview with DC News Now, Kennedy, who is Cambodian American and lives in Montgomery County, said she hopes her win will encourage LGBTQ+ kids to “be themselves.”

She also said that she felt supported by the “sisterhood” of women competing with her in the pageant.

She added: “I felt confident in my own skin at 31,” she said.

Kennedy said she hopes her win will “open up some doors, open up some hearts” in how people view the LGBT community.

Former Miss Maryland USA 2016, Christina Denny McDaniel, said she was impressed with all the barriers Kennedy has broken.

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“I hope Bailey’s win inspires people both young and old to stand tall in their truth and not let anything hold them back in the pursuit of their dreams,” she said. “Bailey will represent Maryland wonderfully at Miss USA. I look forward to following her journey as she continues to make history here in Maryland.”

Bailey joins other trailblazing trans women.

In 2021, Kataluna Enriquez became the first trans woman crowned Miss Nevada. In 2018, a trans woman, Angela Ponce, competed for Spain in the Miss Universe pageant.

Kevin Naff, editor-in-chief of the Washington Blade, lauded Kennedy’s achievement.

“Bailey Anne Kennedy’s accomplishment is an inspirational beacon during these often challenging times for the trans community,” Naff said. “It’s especially meaningful during Pride month. Her win is further proof that the anti-trans forces aligned against us will lose as more and more Americans become acquainted with the transgender community.”

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Kennedy’s win comes at a time when the transgender community has made progress against adversity. The Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law, estimates that there are 1.6 million transgender people in the United States, including 24,000 in Maryland.

The transgender community gained visibility locally and nationally when Maryland native Isis King broke ground with the Amazon Prime series “With Love,” becoming one of the few transgender actresses to take a leading role in a major studio-backed romantic comedy.

But transgender people continue to face obstacles. The ACLU has identified hate crimes, violence, workplace discrimination, affordable access to health care, and the rights and safety of transgender people in prison, jail and detention facilities as top issues facing the community.

Three hundred twenty-one trans and gender-diverse people were killed between Oct 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring report, which tracks murders reported in the news media each year.

The report found that 94% of the deaths were trans women or trans-feminine people. More than 4,600 people have died since the group first started tracking the deaths in 2008.

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The Pride Center Maryland, which runs Pride Month events in Baltimore, sees Kennedy’s win as a “landmark moment for the LGBTQ community.

”Kennedy’s victory marks a transformative moment in how transgender individuals are perceived across the nation,” said Tramour Wilson, senior director of advocacy and community engagement for Pride Center Maryland, who added that hopefully the win will encourage more transgender people to participate in pageants.

”This milestone is poised to inspire confidence within the trans community, encouraging more trans and gender nonconforming individuals to aspire towards their dreams and break barriers,” said Wilson, who hopes Kennedy’s win “instills confidence, courage, and the strength” within the trans and gender-nonconforming community.

“Breaking down stereotypes and barriers by showing the world there is more to this community than meets the eye. These are strong individuals will continually strive for their right to be their self in every light,” Wilson said.