Black trans woman Zhané Dawlingz Wiley crowned Miss Continental: ‘Blessed and highly favoured’

Zhané Dawlingz/Instagram

A Black trans woman has been crowned Miss Continental.

Zhané Dawlingz Wiley was announced as the winner of the prestigious drag pageantry title in Chicago on Monday (4 September).

Founded in 1980 by Jim Flint, Miss Continental is an annual pageantry competition for drag queens, hosted at the Baton Show Lounge. It has grown greatly ever since, with Mr Continental launched in 2003, then Miss Continental Plus, for contestants weighing more than 225lb, and Miss Continental Elite, for those over the age of 40.

Sharing a portrait of herself dressed in a silver ball gown and wearing a jewelled crown, Wiley took to Instagram to thank her team, the judges and fellow contestants.

“I want to thank all of the contestants,” she wrote. “You all showcased your absolute best and I can’t wait to see you return next year.

“I want to thank everyone who took a part in this major victory. Words truly cannot express how I feel, however my spirit is so full and I am just so blessed and highly favoured.

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“I am your newly crowned Miss Continental 2024.”

The victory has been welcomed by her contemporaries, with former RuPaul’s Drag Race US contestant Jan praising her shining performance as “an honour to watch.”

Vanessa van Cartier, the winner of the second season of Drag Race Holland, also offered her congratulations, as did US season nine’s Alexis Michelle.

“A black trans woman won Miss Continental on her first try and I don’t think enough people are making enough noise for how f*cking hard that is to achieve,” showgirl Rita Bane Stone wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Wiley also thanked her predecessors, including Drag Race Canada judge Brooke Lynn Hytes, who took home the crown in 2014 – on her second attempt.

“The Miss Continental pageant has definitely made me a better, more polished entertainer,” Hytes told Xtra at the time. “After competing last year for the first time, and doing so well, it really lit a fire under me and made me ask myself how I could become better.

“Being Miss Continental means having a platform to motivate and inspire a whole group of entertainers who don’t believe that Miss Continental is possible for them. I am here to say it is possible for anyone who puts in the hard work and dedication.”