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Bailey Anne Kennedy has become the first transgender woman to hold the title of Miss Maryland USA.

On Saturday, June 1, 31-year-old Kennedy made history when she was crowned at the end of the pageant in Bethesda, Maryland. According to local outlet DC News Now, she is also the first Asian American and military wife to win the title.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, June 4, the newly crowned pageant queen opened up about how her identity has influenced her career, addressing her experiences with detractors.

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“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 began the post, accompanied by a photo of herself tearing up as she won the competition.

“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,” she continued.

Kennedy, whose husband is a U.S. Marine, has long advocated for military spouses and cited the USO as one of her platforms.

“I can’t wait to start my reign and get back to the USO office, and start serving lunches & personally thank our active duty service members like I originally planned to yesterday because that’s what actually matters to me,” she concluded her caption.

Following her win, she told DC News Now that claiming the Miss Maryland USA title was a “whirlwind.”

“I knew it was bigger than me. I knew it was going to mean a lot for all the LGBTQ kids out there who might feel like they don’t belong in a box — like me growing up,” she said, adding that she felt the full support of her “sisterhood” of fellow competitors.

Kennedy also discussed her age, advocating for what she calls “Beauty Without an Expiration Date.” She felt confident in her own skin at 31, surpassing the old age limit of 28, which the Miss Universe Organization has now lifted, allowing women of all ages to compete.

Kennedy says that she hopes her pageant win will open doors and hearts, showing the diverse aspects of the LGBT community and making a positive societal contribution, similar to her work with the USO program.

Kennedy is now set to compete for the title of Miss USA in Los Angeles on the 4th of August, 2024.

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