Angela Ponce, born Angel Ponce, made history on December 16 just by walking the runway at Miss Universe 2018. Despite not making the finals of the competition, Miss Spain was happy to be a part of pageant history. “This is for you, for those who have no visibility, no voice… today I am here, proudly representing [my nation and human rights].”
Why It’s Important
For the longest time, beauty pageants were closed off to the transgender and LGBT community. The Miss Universe organization was run by Donald Trump, who is often accused of discriminating against LGBT members. Things came to a head in 2012 with the disqualification of Jenna Talackova from Miss Canada for not being a “natural-born” woman, eventually spelling the end of Trump’s time in charge.
Talackova was later allowed to compete, but only Angela has gotten as far as the world finals. Having won her province in Spain in 2015 as Miss Cadiz, the transgender model won over all of Spain with a radiant smile and a tan, leggy look. Even though 24-year old Miss Philippines (Catriona Gray) won this year’s contest, Angela has continued to impress by not just being a pretty face. Charismatic and talented, she is a powerful activist that will continue to influence the LGBT scene long after this pageant.
What It Means
Angela has been using the platform of the pageant to promote LGBT equality and has even offered to sit down and meet with Donald Trump. She’s set the precedent for transgender people competing in pageants and wants to continue to break barriers.
The model also wants to flip the narrative about beauty pageants. Often dismissed as a show for men to objectify pretty women, Ponce insists that the pageant unexpectedly gave her an opportunity to fulfill some lifelong dreams and start a discussion about important human rights. LGBT work aside, she was also honored to be an ambassador for Spain, showing off a traditional bata de cola – a stunning white, frilled dress for dancing flamenco.
The costume was a reminder of how far Angela has come: at eight, her only dream was to one day dance in that dress, no matter how small the audience. Today, she speaks to a crowd of hundreds of thousands, sharing her story of overcoming obstacles and championing her cause. It’s all thanks to a supportive family, which Angela admits has been crucial in a society that doesn’t understand her way of life.
But many others aren’t so lucky, and Angela knows there’s a long road ahead to securing LGBT rights. After some post-pageant vacation, she heads back out to modeling and speaking, always leading, always fighting.