The 27-year-old from Sevilla, Spain, had a special segment dedicated to her during the live broadcast from Bangkok, Thailand. Although she narrowly missed out on coming in the top 20 contestants, she told viewers she didn’t care about winning as long as she was able to compete.
She said: “My hope is for tomorrow to be able to live in a world of equality for everyone, simply for us all to understand that we are human and we must make all our lives easier together.
“If I can give that to the world, I don’t need to win Miss Universe, I only need to be here.”
Ashley Graham, who co-hosted the contest, called Angela ‘extraordinary’ as part of the video segment.
She said: “Angela Ponce is everything you’d expect from the reigning Miss Universe.
“She’s smart. Driven. Beautiful. But her path has been anything but ordinary. And nothing short of extraordinary.”
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A post shared by ANGELA PONCE (@angelaponceofficial) on Dec 15, 2018 at 7:55am PST
Fans on Twitter also rushed in to praise Angela, who beats 22 other Spanish contestants to secure her place in the Miss Universe competition.
Spreading the message of inclusivity, An advocate for equality towards transgender and awareness that to be someone like her is not a choice it is a way of life. Thank you Angela Ponce you deserve the best regards! 😘 #MissUniverse https://t.co/dTLr7jvuEj
— Arkisha Hutcherson (@casaismaarc) 17 December 2018
Miss Spain’s Angela Ponce will be one of the beauty queens I will always have high respects for. You’ve just did not represent and bring honor to your country, but you also fought for equality and respect as you conquered the world stage. 🏳️🌈
— Anton Paderanga (@MAntonio1866) 17 December 2018
The Miss Universe organisation lifted its ban on transgender contestants in April 2012, however, this is the first time a transgender contestant has made it into the final competition. Previous guidelines had said only ‘naturally born females’ would be allowed to compete.
The high profile Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which is currently in its 44th year, has never had a transgender model walk in it.
Victoria’s Secret boss Edward Razek recently apologised for transgender comments he made during an interview with American Vogue.
He told the publication: “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.”
Several well known fashion houses, including Calvin Klein, Prabal Gurung, Marc Jacobs and Helmut Lang have featured transgender models on their catwalks in recent years.
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