In June, Angela Ponce was named Miss Spain 2018 after outshining 22 other Spanish beauty contestants to earn the coveted title. After her momentous win, the model and activist will now move on to represent her country as the first openly transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, which will be held in Thailand later this year, according to a report from Time.
While speaking to the publication, the 27-year-old said she is hoping to become a role model for young trans people around the world and inspire them to pursue their dreams.
Ponce’s accomplishment is a big deal as trans women weren’t always allowed to compete in the pageant. In 2012, the Miss Universe pageant, which was owned by Donald Trump at the time, changed its rules to offer trans women the opportunity to compete. This change of policy came after the pageant was widely criticized for not allowing another trans woman, Jenna Talackova, to participate in Canada’s Miss Universe pageant.
According to a report from CNN, Talackova took legal action against the organization which largely contributed to its decision to change the rules.
When asked if she thought her win would send a message to Trump, she said it would be so much more.
“More than a message to him, it would be a win for human rights. Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women,” she explained.
In July, she told the Associated Press that she hoped to put her platform to good use by also shedding light on the legal discrimination faced by trans individuals, as well as the growing number of trans suicides that have been reported.
“If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me,” she said.
When asked about Victoria’s Secret refusal to include trans models in its shows and the comments made by CMO Ed Razek, Ponce offered a response.
“If they don’t want us to model for them, they shouldn’t want us to buy their products.”
The model has definitely faced her share of discrimination and transphobia in the fashion industry. She revealed that she has lost countless modeling jobs after the hiring brand or company learned she was a trans woman.
The Miss Universe pageant will air on December 16 at 7 p.m. ET on Fox.