The Miss Universe pageant has officially become more about making history than winning a beauty competition. On Sunday, Dec. 16, Spain’s Angela Ponce walked in the show as the first transgender contestant. In the eyes of many, she’s already a winner.
While Miss Philippines might’ve won the title of Miss Universe, it’s all good with Angela. For her, being able to represent her community matters more. “I don’t need to win Miss Universe. I only need to be here,” she said, after failing to make the top 20. Angela also commented on what it means to have been part of such a prestigious beauty competition.
“What I feel by being the first transgender contestant at Miss Universe is a big sense of responsibility. It gives me a lot of pride, and personally, I’m very proud to have made it here,” she explained. “I’ve been in the press, on TV, and I’ve put the conversation on the table. It was a topic that was not spoken about — what does it mean being a transgender person.”
The Miss Universe organization was founded in 1952, which means that for 66 consecutive years, there hasn’t been a transgender contestant representing the LGBTQ community until now. The ban against transgender contestants was actually lifted six years ago in 2012, and while it may have taken a bit of time, things are finally changing thanks to Angela’s initiative and bravery.
One of the 27-year-old’s goals is to help others who have dealt with similar experiences. Her advice to transgender girls and women? “We have to be happy, feel free, go with the flow, have less prejudices, have more love and be more tolerant of everything.” It all starts with one person. Way to go, Miss Spain!