Anita Green will make history on Sunday as the first transgender person to compete in the Miss Montana USA pageant.
The 26-year-old from Missoula decided to enter the pageant, the winner of which goes on to Miss USA, to “try something different.”
“I wanted to do something that I thought would be fun and challenging, and this certainly has been challenging for me,” Green tells PEOPLE. “This also gives me an opportunity for my voice to be heard.”
Though this will be her first pageant, Green already has experience in the public eye. She became the first transgender delegate from Montana in 2016 when she was elected to cast her vote for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention.
Green, who works with adults with disabilities, is focusing her platform on aiding members of the LGBTQI community and pushing for laws that would make their lives easier.
“I hope that competing inspires other transgender people to feel confident in themselves, and to feel comfortable to be who they are and not be ashamed of their transgender status,” she says.
Green says that her family and friends have been “very supportive,” and she got a warm welcome from her fellow Miss Montana USA competitors.
“I was actually pleasantly surprised by that, I wasn’t expecting them all to be so accepting of me, but they have been, and it’s been a wonderful experience,” she says.
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To prepare for the competition on Sunday night, Green has been working out six days a week and eating healthier, and her boyfriend is quizzing her on potential interview questions.
While Green isn’t sure how she’ll do on the competition stage, she’s asking viewers to go online and vote her through to the semi-final round. But win or lose, Green is excited to share her story.
“I really wanted to make sure that my progressive message was heard on a much wider scale,” she says. “I think that the Miss Universe organization is great for letting women have their voices heard. Women oftentimes have their voices suppressed, and I think that the Miss Universe organization gives women the opportunity to shine.”