If you’ve never really cared about the Miss Universe pageant before, now you have reason to. This year’s Miss Universe competition, which took place on Monday in Bangkok and featured contestants from 94 countries around the world, saw a transgender competitor for the first time in the pageant’s history.
Angela Ponce, who represented Spain, made history as the first transgender competitor. While she did not win the competition, she won in the eyes of many for bringing diversity to the forefront of such a major event.
“Today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights.”
— ABC News (@ABC) December 17, 2018
In a tweet, Ponce wrote, “What an honour and pride to be part of the story of @missuniverse. This is for you, for those who have no visibility, no voice, because we all deserve a world of respect, inclusiveness and freedom. #MissUniverse.”
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The pageant has been running for 66 years and it wasn’t until 2012 when the organization allowed transgender contestants to compete — prior to this there was a ban. What’s particular interesting, as TIME reports, is that the pageant was previously owned by Donald Trump, “whose administration was slammed this fall for considering a policy that would erase protections for trans individuals.”
— Gia Gunn (@GiaGunn) December 18, 2018
Whether you support the competition or not, there’s no denying that the inclusion of Ponce is a big deal and that it will hopefully pave the way for more diversity in the pageant in future years.