Earlier this year, Angela Ponce beat 20 other women to win the title of Miss Universe Spain. The 26-year-old is the first transgender woman to compete in the global Miss Universe pageant.
Although she was unsuccessful in her bid for Miss Universe, she has spoken of her pride in representing her country and the transgender community at the world’s largest beauty pageant.
One word: Fierce. 🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/tH1pQVHk8A
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 10, 2018
During the event in a video presentation, she spoke with tears in her eyes, she said:
“My hope is for tomorrow to be able to live in a world of equality for everyone.
“Simply for us all to understand that we are all human and that we must make all our lives easier together. That reality for many people is going to change.
“If I can give to that to the world, I don’t need to win Miss Universe, I only need to be here.”
Ponce competes in Miss Universe six years after the pageant opened up to transgender women.
Miss Universe competitor Jenna Talackova waged a legal battle with the pageant in 2012 after she was disqualified and not allowed to compete by the Canadian organisers.
They claimed Talackova couldn’t compete because she wasn’t a “naturally born” woman. Talackova was recognised by another competitor after she competed in Miss International Queen, a pageant for transsexual and transgender women.
“I am a woman,” Talackova said in a prepared statement at the time. “I was devastated and I felt that excluding me for the reason that they gave was unjust.”
Ponce’s victory, six years later, is a triumph for transgender people. She is the first transgender titleholder of the Miss Universe competition.
Miss Spain #AngelaPonce is the first transgender contestant at the #MissUniverse and she's a favourite to win. "Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. I’m showing that trans women can be whatever they want," she says. https://t.co/k1EywkMgWo pic.twitter.com/GqyedDH0DI
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) December 13, 2018
Speaking to CNN the 27 year old said that she feels “a big sense of responsibility” as the first transgender contestant in the competition.
She said: “It gives me a lot of pride and personally I’m very proud to have made it here.”
Ponce also spoke about the importance of “putting the conversation on the table” in regards to what it means to be transgender.
“I think that people are more and more informed. All these prejudices come from disinformation.
“The first obstacle that I overcame was to be born into a world that wasn’t prepared for transgender people.
“I always say that it’s not like you feel like a woman. You already are a woman,” she told CNN.
Angela missed out on the overall Miss Universe crown to Caitriona Grey, Miss Universe 2018 Philippines, but was lauded by viewers for her performances and bravery.
Miss Universe co-host Ashley Graham said Ponce is “everything you’d expect from the reigning Miss Universe,” according to E! News.
— sad reaxxx 🙃 (@brokedsad) December 17, 2018
“She’s smart. Driven. Beautiful. But her path has been anything but ordinary. And nothing short of extraordinary.”
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