Military wife is first Asian American, transgender woman to win Miss Maryland

Bailey Anne Kennedy, the newly crowned Miss Maryland, has wasted no time in making history.

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It's the first year that married women can compete in the Miss USA pageant, and Bailey Anne Kennedy, the newly crowned Miss Maryland, has wasted no time in making history.

Kennedy, a military wife, is the first Asian American woman to become Miss Maryland. She's also the first transgender woman to win the title, in the 10 years since transgender women were first allowed in the Miss USA pageant.

And to top it all off, this year's competition was Kennedy's first pageant.

"I actually have never competed in pageants before," Kennedy told NBC Washington. "And I've been watching Miss USA and Miss Universe all my life. I never thought that I could be here, one day, and actually wear the title of Miss Maryland USA."

"I'm very excited, for the first time, that married women can now compete, and women of all ages, and all sizes, and all colors," she said.

Kennedy's platform in the competition was that "beauty has no expiration date," she told NBC Washington.

To her, that means that anyone can be beautiful. Things like being a mother, or pursuing a childhood dream that you thought was no longer possible to achieve, are all part of the beauty of life.

"It's truly an amazing opportunity," Kennedy said of her win in the competition. "And I am so glad that the Universe organization now is celebrating every woman, universally."

The impact that Kennedy's win has had on the LGBTQ+ community isn't lost on her, she said. "The weight of her presence in the competition was something on her mind "throughout the whole finals night," she said.

"I remember crying, thinking that, if I even make it to top 18 or top 15, I would make history," Kennedy said. "Because I am one of the first few to even make it out there."

"Now, having won the title, it's amazing. I just want it to be a good reflection of the LGBTQIA+ community, that we're all coming from different backgrounds and different walks of life," she added. "We're just like anybody else."

Aside from celebrating her win, Kennedy is preparing for the Miss USA competition, which takes place in Los Angeles in August.

"I hope to showcase what Maryland has been teaching me all my life, and that is the diversity that we celebrate on a day-to-day basis," Kennedy said. "In terms of food, in terms of the people that we cherish, our neighbors."

She wants to share those values and pieces of culture during the next competition. And Kennedy certainly isn't slowing down anytime soon.

"Having immigrated to America at the age of 11 from Cambodia, I hope to showcase what it means to be an immigrant, and have that immigrant tenacity, and work hard for that dream."

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