Representing Century City, Wenzel, 26, was one of 229 competitors at the showdown in Pasadena. Though she lost to Miss Greater San Diego Mabelynn Capeluj, the 26-year-old Wenzel should be proud to have broken down doors—and stereotypes.
Wenzel’s appearance follows a controversy in April 2012, when Miss Universe officials disqualified Miss Canada Jenna Talackova after learning she was transgender. In a rare instance of non-douchery, pageant producer Donald Trump reversed their decision and opened the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants to trans women.
By the time she heard the rules had changed, Wenzel was nearing Miss USA’s age limit. “I moved my [gender-reassignment] 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 Anderson Cooper on Friday. “I kind of just put it out to the universe and hoping it would happen. And then it happened.”