Miss Greater Derry, a local scholarship pageant under the Miss America Organization, has faced online criticism after crowning its first transgender woman winner earlier this month.
Brían (pronounced "Bree-ann") Nguyen, a 19-year-old social media influencer and business management student, was crowned Miss Greater Derry 2023 on Nov. 6 and will be competing against other local title holders for Miss New Hampshire 2023 in April.
“In the 100-year history of Miss America, I have officially become the FIRST transgender titleholder within the Miss America Organization,” she wrote in a post shared by the Miss Greater Derry Instagram page about her historic win.
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The Miss Greater Derry Pageant has been around since 1987, providing scholarships to young women aged 17 to 24 in the greater Derry, New Hampshire, area.
After being crowned the winner, Nguyen went on to announce that she would be launching a social media movement called #QueensAreEverywhere. She explained in a post that the movement would aim to help the next generation develop their self-confidence, realize their potential and become the leaders of their destiny.
Nguyen’s win ignited a heated discussion online, prompting some to criticize the Miss America Organization, the company that operates local scholarship pageants, for being “woke.”
Glamour model and 1998 Miss Great Britain winner Leilani Dowding took jabs at the organization for crowning Nguyen as a winner, writing that young women today are not being given the same chance as she once had when she competed in an “era absent of woke ideology.”
“Over the past two years, we’ve seen biological males compete against women in female sports tournaments, with the unfair advantage of, well, being a man,” Dowding, 42, wrote in her op-ed for conservative outlet The Daily Fetched.
“But what’s different with this beauty pageant is Brían Nguyen did not have any advantages; apart from being an overweight transgender-identifying individual, a far cry from what society would have once classed as a ‘natural beauty,’” she continued.
Similarly, GB News host Mark Dolan accused the scholarship pageant of reaching “peak woke” in a segment where he commented on the Miss Greater Derry winner announcement.
Several Instagram users also criticized Nguyen’s win, with one user writing under the Miss Greater Derry post, “Thnx(sic) for f*cking up the world just a little bit more. Disrespect for all the real woman(sic) in this world.”
One user even went as far as to make fun of Nguyen’s appearance in a comment under another Instagram post, writing, “Does Han Solo still owe you money?”
While the competition started as a beauty pageant on the boardwalk of Atlantic City in 1921, Miss America has undergone drastic changes, especially after Miss America 1989 winner Gretchen Carlson became head of the board of trustees in June 2018.
Some of the changes implemented in what the organization calls "Miss America 2.0" include the removal of the swimsuit competition and an increased focus on candidates’ accomplishments, talents, intelligence and ideas rather than their physical beauty.
“We want you and we want to celebrate your accomplishments and your talents and then we want to hand you scholarships,” Carlson told prospective candidates.
Despite the negative comments Nguyen has received, many still celebrated the historic moment in her comment section, with one writing, “Thank you for existing.”
“All these nasty comments will never compare to your grace, courage and beauty. You are killing it,” another Instagram user commented.
Featured Image via @brianannguyen