December 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm EST | by Mariah Cooper
Angela Ponce becomes first transgender contestant in Miss Universe

Angela Ponce made history as the first transgender contestant to compete in Miss Universe during the 2019 competition.

Ponce, 27, represented Spain in the Miss Universe competition, which took place in Bangkok, Thailand and aired live on Sunday. The competition featured women representing 94 nations around the world.

She didn’t win the crown, that honor went to Miss Philippines (Catriona Gray), or even make the top 20 but Ponce was grateful just for the representation.

“I don’t need to win Miss Universe,” Ponce said after her elimination.“I only need to be here.”

Later in the show, Miss Universe aired a pre-recorded segment which gave Ponce a platform to speak on the importance of her being in the competition.

“I’m here to represent diversity of humans in the world,” Ponce says. “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 that we must make all our lives easier together. That reality for many people is going to change.”

She also posted how monumental her inclusion in the pageant was on Instagram.

“What an honor and pride to be part of the history of @missuniverse,” Ponce penned in Spanish. “This is for you, for those who have no visibility, no voice, because we all deserve a world of respect, inclusion and freedom. And today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights.”

Transgender women were banned from competing in Miss Universe until Jenna Talackova (Canada) challenged the ban and it was lifted in 2012. Ponce is the first transgender contestant to advance to the final competition.

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