Wenzel will be the first ever transgender contestant in Miss California USA after the Miss Universe Organization changed its rules in April last year — Miss Universe operates the Miss USA pageant, and the local pageants that determine the state delegates.
Appearing on “Anderson Live” on Friday, Wenzel told host Anderson Cooper, “This has been a dream since I was 11. So I kind of just put it out to the universe and hoping it would happen. And then it happened.”
Last year, the Miss Universe Organization announced it was changing its rules and will allow transgender women to take part in all of its competitions starting in 2013.
The announcement came in response to a controversy when transgender contestant Jenna Talackova was disqualified from competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada because she was not a “naturally born female.”
When she learned of the rule change, Wenzel said she left her job as a shift manager at Jamba Juice to pursue her life-long dream of entering the Miss California beauty pageant.
“I moved my surgery up six months, I resigned from my job. Ever since then I’ve been just working on hoping to become Miss California USA,” she told Cooper.
Talackova ended up competing in Miss Universe Canada where she reached the Top 10 semi finals. The Miss California USA finals will be held January 13th. If Wenzel wins, she will represent her State at the 2013 Miss USA pageant to be held in Las Vegas in June.