We’re talking today with Kylan Arianna Wenzel, the young transsexual woman who was the first TG contestant in the Miss California pageant. On January 12 she competed with 228 other women in the premiminary round. She represented Century City. Unfortunately she did not advance to the second round.
TGF: Kylan, you must have been very disappointed.
Kylan: I was very disappointed and discouraged. First of all, I knew how much this would mean to the community and to anyone that felt different or they didn’t feel like the belong in society. And second, I know without a doubt that I should have made the Top 20. No question. I personally feel like it was a slight sabotage from one or more of the judges, rather than lack of preparation on my part. I know that is a serious accusation, but I know I should have made the finals. I saw the Top 20 finalists, and I know I should have made it. The girl who ended up winning, her question was “What bothers you most with what’s happening in the world?” I would have mentioned something about the Middle East or discrimination and why people cannot just get along. She answered, (in a short version), ” What bothers me most in the world is the poor grammar I see on Twitter, because I believe in an education.” Are you kidding me? And that’s the girl the judges picked to be the ambassador of the state of California. I rest my case.
TGF: You had wanted to be one of the women in Miss Universe pageant since you were eleven. How, at that age, as a young boy, did you come to feel that you wanted to compete as a woman? What was the appeal?
Kylan: Even at 11, although I was living as a boy, I never thought my goals and dreams had limitations. So even though obviously you have to be physically female to be Miss Universe, it didn’t register that I wasn’t physically female at the time. I always felt like a girl, and I didn’t realize what journey I would have to take to get there. What was appealing? Well, the platform Miss Universe had. Just the fact when someone is crowned Miss Universe, I felt this sense of awe and I wanted to relate to her. So I suppose it was the indirect connection of somehow being united when you feel happy for someone else’s success.
TGF: You’re a lovely young lady and when people know of all the challenges you faced to become you they will be amazed. Tell us about your early life.
Kylan: Thank you very much. That is very sweet to say. Well everyone goes through challenges. It’s completely necessary in order to develop an awareness as a human being. As a little kid, I took longer to develop compared to my peers. Although English was my first language, I had to take English as a Second Language, I did Hooked on Phonics for kids, and I just had a hard time comprehending the world, school, and everything. It wasn’t till I was 12 that I started to do extremely well in school, and that’s because I started to read a lot of books. I was born in South Korea, and I didn’t come to the United States till I was 5. I went back when I was 14. And then I came back to the USA when I was 18. So I spent about 8 years of my life living overseas, and the rest scattered numerous of states. I started to understand that there are so many ways to live life, and you can’t possibly expect everyone to live one way. It definitely helped open my mind and have a better understanding of different cultures. About the abuse, all I will say is that I used to come home afraid of my parents. That’s why I enjoyed school so much, because I would be away from them. I always felt afraid, alert, and tense as a child. I would day dream a lot. When you come from a disadvantaged background, people have this expectation that you can accomplish so little. But I had this fire in me that said, you’re so wrong. I can, I will, because I know this “dullness” will not be my life.
TGF: Many TGs have problems with their parents not accepting them as transgendered but you had to deal with actual physical abuse. How were you able to deal with that? We’ve read that you have forgiven them. How did you do that?
Kylan: Well when you forgive someone, it’s not for them. It’s for yourself. It doesn’t mean that what they did was okay, and they have to take responsibility, but it allows you to find and peace and move on from it. Regardless if I endured physical and sexual abuse, and others do not, pain is all the same. It just comes in different forms and ways in your life. And all of it hurts. Some maybe a little more, but pain feels like pain. It would be great to have that support from your parents, but you can still live a joyful life as long as you choose to. Your life is what you make of it, what you believe it can be as long as you are willing to work hard. And try to not complain so much. That’s what I’ve learned. Stop complaining. If a door shuts, find that window that’s still open. Or find another door! Just make sure you leave that door open for others.
TGF: Do you have a relationship with your parents?
Kylan: No, I do not.
TGF: You resigned from your job at Jamba Juice to concentrate on the pageant. Is preparing for a beauty pageant that time consuming?
Kylan: Well, I resigned in August. And the reason I resigned is because I had my gender reassignment surgery. So it takes about 2-3 months before you can actually go back to work. Mine took almost 4 months, and I am still not fully healed yet. My surgery had complications which I won’t get in to. So it was the recovery process that was very hard, and then having to get back into the routine and getting back into shape was extremely difficult.
TGF: What kind of pageant preperations did you undertake?
Kylan: The month before the pageant I ran 106 miles. I had to cram everything in trying to get faster results without injuring myself. Preparing for a beauty pageant really is about being able to showcase the best of yourself. If that means a certain body weight or type, or learning how you express yourself in communication, or how you do your hair and makeup, etc. But yes, all the girls were working out, dieting, some were getting pageant training. It all depends on the individual. I do not think pageant training is necessary. The Miss Universe Organization is basically a modeling contract where as Miss America is a scholarship program. I practiced my walk in front of a mirror, did situps every night. It was a lot of work.
Kylan: I did participate in the Miss California USA contest.
TGF: Oh, of course you did. Sorry for misspeaking.
Kylan: I didn’t win, so I won’t be competing at Miss USA. Well right now I just have to think about my future, so I will probably finish my education ASAP. I am considered too old to model and I was rejected by LA Models, so I think going back to school is a smart decision.
TGF: Do you have advice for other young women who want to compete in pageants?
Kylan: If it’s something you want to do then by all means go for it. Every experience is a different one. Mine wasn’t pleasant, but another girl might have had the time of her life! All I would say is study what you are getting in to, never compromise your integrity, and the best thing you can offer to the world is being your authentic self.
TGF: Thanks so much for speaking with TGForum today.
Kylan: Thanks TGForum! We are all stars.