Spain's entry to the Miss Universe pageant, Angela Ponce, is breaking down barriers as the first-ever transgender woman to compete in the pageant that was formerly owned by Donald Trump. Ponce, a model who beat out 22 other women to become Spain's entry to the pageant, which takes place on Sunday in Bangkok, said she hopes to use the platform to elevante trans visibility.
"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," Ponce told the Associated Press after she won the title of Miss Spain in June.
Ponce competed in the Miss World pageant in 2015 and found that the rules made it such that a trans woman could not win, which crushed her, she told Time in late November. But since Ponce made it to the Miss Universe finals, Miss World has now changed its rules, she said.
"I changed the rules," Ponce of the impact she's already had.
But the Miss Universe pageant under former owner Trump did not halt its ban on transgender contestants in 2012 without pressure. The ban was speciously lifted at the same time that famed attorney Gloria Allred threatened legal action against it for banning Jenna Talackova, a trans contestant from Canada.
Considering Trump's past relationship with the pageant and his ongoing attacks on trans people including a proposed military ban and his administration's attempt to define trans people out of existence, Ponce commented on what it would mean for her to win in terms of Trump.
It would send "More than a message to him [Trump]. It would be a win for human rights," She told Time. "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."
Despite competing on the world stage for some audiences that may not be tolerant of her trans identity, Ponce said she's excited to compete.
"I'm not trying to impose anything on anyone. I'd never try to change anyone's culture or way of life," Ponce said. "But by competing I'll make trans people more visible for everyone, which is a big step. I'm not nervous. I'm excited."