Angela Ponce, also known as Miss Spain, was the face of the Miss Universe contest this year, even though she wasn’t crowned winner at the pageant in Thailand.
The title went to Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray, but it’s fair to say that Angela, a twenty-seven-year-old Spanish stunner, stole the show.
Angela Ponce is transgender. The Seville, Spain, model won over twenty-two other Spanish girls to compete on the world stage.
“Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. I’m showing that trans women can be whatever they want,” Ponce told Reuters. “I am proud to have the opportunity to use this platform for a message of inclusion, tolerance and respect for the LGBT-positive community.”
There was the predictable controversy in some corners over whether women born as men should compete in women’s competitions. But for the most part, Angela was well received and fairly judged by media and her audiences. Trans women in some fields may be perceived as having an unfair advantage, such as in sports, because they may be naturally taller or more muscular. But generally speaking, in this contest, despite some moronic Twitter denunciations and so forth, Angela had more fans than foes.
Ponce wrote on Instagram:
“This is for you, for those who have no visibility, no voice, because we all deserve a world of respect, inclusion and freedom… today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights.”
Angela was the first transgender woman to compete on the world stage. But in 2012, Jenna Talackova was disqualified from the Canadian nationals when it was learned that she was transgender. Ironically, the pageant at the time was owned by Donald Trump! He actually changed the competition rules when Talackova complained about being ousted by Canadian officials. The controversial president, then a tycoon business man, officially lifted the bans on gender that year, and eventually the red tape changed throughout the franchises at international levels.
Ponce’s charisma, courage, and visibility also had a part in changing rules across pageants, as Miss World changed their regulations once she began competing as trans at Miss Universe.
Angela, who performed flamenco in a gorgeous gown, and a hot pink bikini, was not upset or disappointed about being defeated by Miss Philippines. She feels she won in every way, and so do we!