For the first time in its 66 year history, the Miss Universe beauty pageant will allow the entry of a transgender contestant.
On Friday, Angela Ponce was crowned Miss Spain after beating 22 other competitors and will now participate in the Miss Universe pageant in hopes of winning the contest’s ultimate prize.
“Bringing the name and colors of Spain before the universe is my great dream,” Ponce wrote last week in an Instagram post, according to The Advocate. “My goal is to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect, and diversity not only for the LGBTQ+ community but also for the entire world.”
Jenna Talackova of Canada has been praised as being the figure who paved the way for other transgender contestants. In 2012, when now-President Donald Trump owned the pageant, Talackova was barred from competition for being transgender. But when a petition to have the rules overturned began to snowball, the Miss Universe organization changed its policy on transgender contestants.
Talackova went on to win Miss Congeniality in Canada.
— Angela Ponce-Official (@angelaponceoff) July 1, 2018
“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,” Ponce told the Daily Mail after failing to win the Miss Spain crown in 2015. Ponce noted always feeling “different,” even as a child, telling the outlet, “When my parents asked me what toy I wanted, I went straight for the Barbies.”
“Society is not educated for diversity and that is what has made me go public,” the Miss Universe competitor explained. “Here I am and I’m not weird. I just have a different story.”
— Pecinta Kontes (@Pecinta_kontes) June 30, 2018
Catriona Gray, who will be representing the Philippines in this year’s Miss Universe competition, said she could understand why there has been mixed responses to Ponce’s victory.
“Personally, I have no problem with it. But I do understand why there’s quite an uproar amongst all the fans and different people looking at the issue,” Gray said in an interview Tuesday with ABS-CBN News.
“But you know, I think it really depends, one on the Miss Universe organization, if they allow it and that’s their prerogative; and the bansa, or the country itself,” she continued. “If that contestant can go through the casting process, become a candidate, and earn the right to represent her country, then why not? Who are we to say, ‘You know that’s wrong.’ I mean it’s the discretion … of the organization.”
Gray noted she would like to hear Ponce’s story herself in order to “understand her side of the whole situation.”