Model makes history by becoming the first transgender person to compete for Spain in Miss Universe
A Spanish model has made history after she became the first transgender person to represent Spain at the Miss Universe beauty pageant. Angela Ponce, a 26-year-old model from Seville, Spain, won the national qualifying contest on Friday, after she beat 22 other contestants to the crown.
After claiming the prize, Ms Ponce will now have the opportunity to represent Spain at the prestigious pageant - often seen as the pinnacle of all beauty pageants - in the Philippines later this year.
Taking to her Instagram shortly after her win to upload a photo of herself on a yacht in front of the Spanish flag, Ms Ponce wrote:
“Bringing the name and colours 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.”
Ponce had previously represented her native area of Cadiz during the Miss World Spain contest, but lost to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna, who later went on the scoop the top prize.However, despite her participation at the national level, at the time of her competing, the Miss World Organization said that it did not accept transgender contestants.
In response to their statement, Angela remained positive, saying: "At least I have the regional (Cadiz) crown on my head."
However, in 2012, rival contest Miss Universe announced that it would allow transgender beauty queens.
The announcement came after Canadian model Jenna Talackova successfully sued Miss Universe Canada organisers for initially disqualifying her for being transgender before the company decided to reverse that decision.
Angela, who is 181 centimetres tall, was crowned Miss Universe Spain during the community's celebration of Pride Month and says that she first identified as a woman at the age of three. Once more taking to her Instagram, Ms Ponce said that she had fulfilled a dream and aimed to use her platform to "carry forward a message of inclusion, respect, tolerance, love for oneself, love for others."
"Today I have fulfilled a dream that I always had, for this the only thing I needed was to turn every obstacle that appeared to me as an opportunity for growth," she wrote.
"Today begins a new cycle for me, committed to myself, with my mission of life, with Spain, I'm going to the @missuniverse, with the awareness and commitment to carry forward a message of inclusion, respect, tolerance, love for oneself, love for others.
"Thank you for accompanying me on this wonderful journey, for believing in me, for giving me the opportunity to put a granite of sand for a society that deserves changes, leave a footprint planted in every human being that life puts me in my way.
"Thank you for every message full of love sent to me."
The date for Miss Universe 2018 is yet to be set, but it will no doubt be a historic an momentous occasion for Angela, particularly if she wins.