For the first time in the history of the iconic Miss Universe pageant, a transgender woman will compete for the crown.
Angela Ponce, 26, won Spain’s Miss Universe competition on June 29, beating out 22 other contestants for the coveted spot. Ponce, who lives in Seville, Spain, will compete in the worldwide Miss Universe contest set in the Philippines in December.
“Bringing the name and colors of Spain before the universe is my great dream,” Ponce wrote on Instagram after she won. “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.”
Transgender women were barred from competing in Miss Universe up until five years ago. In 2012, Canada’s Jenna Talackova was barred from competing because she was trans, but with the help of attorney Gloria Allred, she legally challenged the rule and got it overturned. The ban was lifted in 2013.
“Let’s make history,” Ponce tweeted two days after she won Spain’s Miss Universe title.
Ponce competed on the Miss World Spain stage in 2015 but lost to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna.
“Society is not educated for diversity, it’s what made me go public, I mean, here I am and I’m not weird,” Ponce told Spanish newspaper 20 Minutos at the time, according to Newsweek. “I just have a different story, a woman who came to life differently but I’m a woman.”