Angela Ponce, the first transgender contestant in Miss Universe

For the first time in the history of Miss Universe, a transgender competed for the title. Miss Spain, Angela Ponce was the first transgender woman among the other 93 contestants in the 2018 event.  Although she did not make the top 20, Ponce said she was already a winner. She came for the competition after got crowned Miss Universe Spain for 2018.

During the coronation night, the beauty pageant organization paid tribute to Angela with a video recognition.  The video was narrated by model and co-host Ashley Graham, who praised Ponce for encapsulating the attributes expected of a Miss Universe contestant.

“Angela Ponce is everything you’d expect from the reigning Miss Universe,” Graham said,

After the video was shown, Miss Spain walked on stage, removed her sash and held it up triumphantly in the air. The crowd greeted her with a standing ovation to pay their honour.

“I don’t need to win Miss Universe. I just need to be here,” said Angela, addressing the crowd.

Miss Spain Angela Ponce, aged 27 years, comes from Seville. While talking about her participation in the pageant Ponce said she wanted to spread tolerance and respect towards oneself and others globally.Previously only ‘naturally born women’ could participate in the Miss Universe Pageant and trans-women were barred from participating in it. The rule has changed in 2012, which allowed Ponce to take part in the event.

Ponce said she wants to promote transgender rights, and raise awareness about inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity. Ponce stated, “I always say, Having a vagina didn’t transform me into a woman. I am a woman, already before birth, because my identity is here,” said Ponce.

In Miss Spain’s Miss Universe bio, it describes her and her mission as this, “Angela Ponce has dedicated her efforts towards the empowerment of young women and families to be proud of who they are. She campaigns to promote gender diversity and equality. Angela is also the first transgender woman ever to be crowned Miss Universe Spain. If she takes home the crown, she wants to want to spread tolerance and respect towards oneself and others globally. Angela is looking forward to making her country proud at this year’s Miss Universe competition.”

While talking to the media, Ponce said she has wanted to be in pageantry since she was just a young child, but she didn’t know if that would be possible. Ponce said, “I never imagined (I would make it to Miss Universe) because I lived in a society where everyone said I couldn’t do that. And I didn’t have the information to realize that my dream to be a woman could ever actually be realized.”