Miss Universe to include first transgender contestant

Angela Ponce / Instagram

Angela Ponce, the recent stunning winner of Miss Universe Spain, will become the first transgender contestant to participate in the Miss Universe pageant.

The 26-year-old model took the Spanish title at the of June, beating out 20 other finalists. This made her the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Spain and also qualified her as the country’s representative in the global event.

“I closed my eyes,” Ponce told AP in an interview about the moment she was announced as the winner. “All I wanted was to feel how they put on the crown because I was aware that it was a historical moment.”

The current Miss Universe is South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who would be called upon to crown Ponce if she wins the international title later this year.

Responding to criticism that she is perpetuating outdated and superficial notions of beauty by competing in pageants, the Spaniard commented: “We can’t be hypocritical. Beauty is used to sell everything around us, and beauty can also help us spread a message of equality.”

Writing on Instagram, Ponce – who took part in the annual Madrid Pride Parade on Saturday – said: “Life is full of challenges, challenges that have meant that today I have fulfilled a dream that I always had, for the only thing I needed was to turn every obstacle that appeared to me into an opportunity for growth.”

She explained that she aims “to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect and diversity – not only for the LGBTQ+ community but for the entire world.”

Miss Universe is run by the American based Miss Universe Organisation and the pageant is seen by more than half a billion people annually. It was owned by Donald Trump until he sold the company in 2015.

The pageant only started allowing transgender contestants in 2012, after a Canadian nominee, Jenna Talackova, threatened to sue the organisation when it barred her from taking part. Talackova ultimately failed to win the Miss Universe Canada pageant and thus did not participate in the global event itself.

La vida está llena de retos, de desafíos, comprender eso en mi vida ha hecho que hoy haya cumplido un sueño que siempre tuve, para ello lo único que necesite fue convertir cada obstáculo que se me presentaba como una oportunidad de crecimiento. Desde mi tenacidad, con constancia, disciplina, respeto, amor a mi misma cierro con La Corona del Miss Universo España una etapa donde camine de la mano de mi familia y amigos recibiendo siempre su apoyo y amor incondicional, sin ellos nada de esto sería posible. @daniela_fundacion por permitirme crecer y ser mejor persona a su lado. Y a mis preparadores @juliomatamoros_hair y @jorgematamorosmakeup por confiar en mi y regalarme su tiempo, sus conocimientos y su ilusión. Hoy comienza un nuevo ciclo para mí, comprometida conmigo misma, con mi misión de vida, con España, voy rumbo al @missuniverse, con la conciencia y el compromiso de llevar adelante un mensaje de inclusión, respeto, tolerancia, amor por uno mismo, amor por los demás. De la mano de @orgbemiss y @guillermoescobaroficial, llevando a adelante nuestro slogam: “SOMOS MÁS DE LO QUE VES”, les doy las Gracias por acompañarme en este maravilloso viaje, por creer en mí, por darme la oportunidad de poner un granito de arena por una sociedad que merece cambios, dejar una huella sembrada en cada ser humano que la vida me ponga en mi camino. Gracias por cada mensaje lleno de amor que me han enviado…

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