Miss Spain to make history as first transgender contestant on Miss Universe

In the wake of a Victoria’s Secret fashion show that many feel failed on the inclusivity front, Spain’s Angela Ponce is poised to make history as the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe. The program, which airs at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday from Bangkok, Thailand, is a star-studded event that will feature Steve Harvey as onstage host, Ashley Graham backstage, and Ne-Yo as the lead performer.

After earning title of Miss Spain in June — which she beat out 22 other competitors to win — Ponce told the Associated Press she hopes to use her platform to fight for better rights for transgender people. “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,” said Ponce.

Ponce spoke with Time in late November, and shed light on the issues she’s faced as a transgender model. “The fashion industry likes to talk about freedom and creativity. But many times I’ve gone to a casting and they’ve given me the job, and then later my agency calls and says they’ve changed their minds, because they’ve found out I’m a trans woman,” said Ponce. “I would just burst into tears.”

She also addressed the controversy with Victoria’s Secret, in which an executive publicly stated that he wouldn’t cast transgender models in the brand’s main show. “I’d say that if trans women can’t walk in Victoria’s Secret shows, then they should put a sign on all their storefronts saying: No trans women,” Ponce told Time. “If they don’t want us to model for them, they shouldn’t want us to buy their products. That implies I’m just a man dressed as a woman.”

Miss Universe, a show formerly owned by President Donald Trump, once held a ban on transgender contestants — which was officially lifted in 2012. Although Trump no longer owns it, Ponce said that winning Miss Universe would be hugely symbolic. “More than a message to [Trump], it would be a win for human rights,” Ponce 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.”

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Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers
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Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers celebrates after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers celebrates after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers is crowned by Miss USA 2017 Kara McCullough, Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and Miss Teen USA 2018 Hailey Colborn after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers competes in the swimsuit portion of the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers competes in the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers poses for a photo after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
2018 MISS USA: Winner: Miss Nebraska, Sarah Rose Summers (C) is named MISS USA at the 2018 MISS USA Competition airing Monday, May 21 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT on FOX). (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Sarah Rose Summers is seen on May 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visit build series to discuss 'Miss USA' at Build Studio on May 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visits the Build Series at Build Studio on May 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: Miss Teen USA 2018 Hailey Colburn (L) and Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers are seen in SoHo on May 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visits the SiriusXM Studios on May 24, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: Miss Teen USA Hailey Colborn (L) and Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers take their first double-decker ride In New York City on July 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Ride of Fame)
US model Sarah Rose Summers attends the NYFW Kick-Off Party hosted by E! Entertainment, ELLE & IMG at The Pool, The Seagram Building on September 5, 2018 New York City. (Photo by Steven FERDMAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read STEVEN FERDMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06: Sarah Rose Summers attends the Nicole Miller Spring 2019 After Party at Acme on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Sarah Rose Summers attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Sarah Rose Summers attends the 2018 US Weekly Most Stylish New Yorkers at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge on September 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Ms. USA Sarah Rose Summers attends the 2018 Global Citizen Festival: Be The Generation in Central Park on September 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - OCTOBER 15: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visits Hallmark's 'Home & Family' at Universal Studios Hollywood on October 15, 2018 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Sarah Rose Summers attends the 2018 World of Children Awards Ceremony and Benefit on November 1, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for World Of Children Awards)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (L) and Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers are seen in Midtown on November 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers is seen in Midtown on November 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
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