She didn’t take home the Miss Universe crown, but Angela Ponce has left in indelible mark on the international beauty pageant.
The 27-year-old Spanish model and beauty pageant titleholder, who’d already made history in June as the first transgender woman to ever be crowned Miss Spain, made historyat Miss Universe 2018 as the first transgender contestant competing for the title.
Ponce received a standing ovation during the coronation night in Thailand, as well as a special tribute by the beauty pageant organization via a video recognition.
After the video was shown, Ponce walked on stage, removed her sash and held it up triumphantly in the air.
“I don’t need to win Miss Universe. I just need to be here,” Angela said.
“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,” Ponce said. “I’ve been in the press, on TV, and I’ve put the conservation on the table. It was a topic that was not spoken about, what does it mean being a transgender person.”
Ponce believes that mindsets about the LGBT community are changing.
“Today, there are positive references. People speak about the LGBT community, and the transgender community. Before it was always underground and never spoken about. I think that people are more and more informed. All these prejudices come from disinformation,” Ponce said.
Although Ponce is proud of being a transgender woman, she says the hardest obstacle she has had to overcome is being born into a world that “wasn’t prepared” for trans people.
“We don’t have the same rights, but we have the same obligations. At school, disinformation is what becomes prejudice, the bullying, the fact that you feel alone, excluded. I always say that it’s not that you feel like a woman. You already are a woman. A transgender is not a man or a boy who feels like a woman, she’s already a transgender person,” Ponce explained. “There are no wrong bodies.”
Ponce has advice for all 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,” she said.