BANGKOK: This year Angela Ponce will be making history as the first transgender contestant in Miss Universe beauty pageant’s 66-year history.
“Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. I’m showing that trans women can be whatever they want,” said Ponce, who was crowned Miss Spain earlier this year.
“I am proud to have the opportunity to use this platform for a message of inclusion, tolerance and respect for the LGBT+ community,” she said in an interview in Bangkok, where the finale is to be held on Dec 17.
The Miss Universe Organization, which owns the beauty pageant, lifted a ban on transgender contestants in 2012. The competition airs in more than 190 countries, with an estimated half a billion viewers annually.
The pageant will take place as Thailand prepares to pass a landmark bill that would allow civil partnerships of same-sex couples, becoming the first Asian country to do so.Alongside Ponce is another contestant who has battled prejudice, and is also making history as Panama’s first indigenous Miss Universe contestant.
“When I entered the competition, there was a lot of criticism; people attacked me on Instagram and in the media, and said I should not be allowed to compete,” said Rosa Montezuma.
“This is a great platform for me to reach the whole world and show that indigenous girls can also be successful,” said Montezuma, 25.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2018