Paolys Reyes became the first trans woman to win Miss Piel Canela Puerto Rico.


This month, Paolys Reyes became the first-ever transgender woman to win Miss Piel Canela Puerto Rico, making her the island's first trans beauty queen. The hairstylist and makeup artist represented the people of Bayamón. "I knew there would be excellent results," the new queen said in a video. "Thank you all for your support. I will not disappoint you. We will continue to open doors. Our trans world is respectable." 

The coronation comes after many in the trans community have faced violence on the island. Newly inaugurated Governor Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency due to high rates of gender-based violence in the country, and specified that the order includes trans women.

Reyes, known as Paolys Wonder on social media, has held various titles, both in Puerto Rico and the U.S. After Angela Ponce paved the way by becoming the first trans woman to win Miss España, Reyes said she gave in to her friends who had urged her to compete in pageants traditionally restricted to cisgender women. She also said she worried she wasn't thin or "perfect-looking" enough. "But everything is possible," Reyes shared. "So I took the challenge, because I'm a very brave woman."

Reyes also won the talent portion of the pageant for a performance imitating Beyoncé, who is one of her favorite divas. "I represented what it is to be a woman, because we, trans women, we are women," she said. "I won the title and I was so emotional, so happy, that I'd earned this."

Another trans woman, Joanna Cifredo, is hoping to include more trans people in the beauty pageant community when she competes in the 17th annual Miss Queen International, which is the world's biggest pageant for transgender women. She has been selected to represent the island.