A transgender woman made history as she won the title of Miss Universe Spain.
Ángela Ponce, a 26-year-old transgender woman, beat out 22 other competitors and was crowned the winner of the contest in Tarragona. She is the first trans woman to win a Miss Universe title since the competition allowed transgender women to participate six years ago.
Ponce will go on to compete against at least 40 other women from around the world in the 67th annual Miss Universe pageant.
“I am very happy with what all this means,” Ponce said. “I want to give a lesson to the world of tolerance and respect towards oneself and towards others.”
Ponce competed in the 2015 Miss World Spain competition but did not win a title.
“I have the regional crown on my head,” she said after losing the competition. “And I will keep fighting to make us seen, to make us heard and to demonstrate that I am already a queen with my own crown.”
The newly crowned pageant queen took to Instagram after her win to express the joy she felt after winning. She hopes to be a spokesperson for diversity, inclusion and the LGBT+ community.
Miss Universe competitor Jenna Talackova waged a legal battle with the pageant in 2012 after she was disqualified 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.
In a heartfelt message on Instagram, Ponce thanked those who believed in her and helped her succeed in becoming the woman she always knew she was.
The Miss Universe 2018 competition doesn’t have an official air date yet. But stay tuned and watch Ángela Ponce make herstory.
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