We live in a world that’s ever-changing, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the increased representation which has been given to the LGBTQ+ community. While we still have a long way to go when it comes to achieving equality, some of its members are no longer held back by many of the outdated standards which would have, for example, prevented a transgender woman from competing in a beauty pageant.Thankfully, all around the world, people are waking up to the fact that gender exists on a spectrum. It’s for this reason that platforms like Facebook no longer require people to just identify as male or female, and, if applicable, they are more than able to change their gender on the social networking website if they wish. What’s more is that transitioning has become easier than ever before with medical advancements.
A reflection of these positive societal changes is 26-year-old Angela Ponce’s victory in qualifying for the prestigious Miss Universe beauty pageant. The gorgeous transgender model beat 22 other women in the qualifying contest, which was held on Friday of last week.
This victory represents the first time that a transgender woman has qualified – six years after the ban on non-cisgender women entering was lifted.
Taking to Instagram to celebrate qualifying for the pageant, the 26-year-old wrote, “Bringing the name and colors of Spain before the universe is my great dream.”
“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.”
Prior to this incredible victory, Angela had represented Cadiz in the 2015 Miss World Spain contest, however, she lost to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna, who was awarded the top prize instead. But clearly, the gorgeous brunette has come back fighting.
Sadly, even though Angela was able to compete in the Miss World Spain contest, she technically shouldn’t have because it did not accept transgender women at the time. In response to this, she graciously said, “At least I have the regional (Cadiz) crown on my head.”
Miss Universe, however, changed its policy on transgender women entering when Canadian model Jenna Talackova successfully sued the organizers of Miss Universe Canada for disqualifying her on the basis that she had not been assigned the female gender at birth.
Jenna went on to enter the top 12 in the pageant, but did not make the top four and was one of the women awarded Miss Congeniality.
For Angela, who stands at 5 feet, 9 inches tall, qualifying for the pageant could not have come at better time. This is because June is the LGBTQ+ community’s Pride month. The 26-year-old revealed that she first began to identify as female when she was just three years old.
The date for the 2018 Miss Universe contest has yet to be set.
While competing for Miss World Spain in 2015, Ponce said that society, “is not educated for diversity and that is what has made me go public. Here I am and I’m not weird, I just have a different story.”
After realizing that she had been assigned the wrong gender, Angela began to explore her gender identity when she was just 11 years old. However, it was not until 2014 that the beautiful 26-year-old finally completed her transition.
But not everyone’s reaction to Angela’s victory has been positive, with many transphobic people claiming that a transgender woman should have never been allowed to beat cisgender women in a beauty pageant.
“When I said boys are better than girls, I didn’t mean it like this,” wrote one YouTube user.
Another added, “I’m so disappointed! I feel sorry for the real beautiful women of Spain.”
But perhaps one of the most confusing comments came from a YouTube user who, after being incredibly transphobic, decided to congratulate Angela on her victory anyway.
“Honestly, I find this very funny. Imagine, with all those natural born beautiful women will be beaten by a transgender? I hate to say this but the Miss Universe Organization allowed this. The most interesting thing to happen is, what if she will going (sic) to win the Miss Universe title? The reputation of the organization is at stake here. Not all countries accept this kind of idea, [it’s] an insult to real women. Anyway, congrats to Miss Spain Universe Angela Ponce for making history to compete in Miss Universe 2018.”
However, where there is bad, there is also good, and thankfully these transphobes were called out for their disgusting comments.
“There’s too much transphobia in the comments,” wrote one YouTube user. Guys, 2018, it’s time to get out of your caves.”
“Some people are just full of hate,” another added, “Congratulations Angela!! and my high respects to Spain!”
Someone else quite rightly pointed out the fact that transgender women are still women, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth.
“Transgender also is a woman and can be category (sic) in any female contest by the law,” wrote one YouTube user.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish Angela all the best in competing in the Miss Universe pageant. Hopefully, her participation will inspire other transgender and indeed cisgender women that true beauty really does have no limitations.