Spain’s Angela Ponce will grace the stage at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, as the first transgender woman to compete for the crown — and the 26-year-old has President Trump to partially thank for the opportunity.
Ponce’s participation comes six years after the Miss Universe organization lifted its ban on transgender contestants. Back in 2012, now-US President Donald Trump owned the franchise, and sided with LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD when transgender contestant Jenna Talackova sued in order to participate.
GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick said at the time that “The Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender.
“We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately. The Miss Universe Organization today follows institutions that have taken a stand against discrimination of transgender women including the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and The CW’s America’s Next Top Model.”
Over the weekend, Ponce won her country’s qualifying contest, beating out 22 other contestants. The beauty queen wrote on Instagram, “Bringing the name and colors of Spain before the universe is my great dream. My goal is to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect and diversity not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but also for the entire world.”
When Talackova threatened legal action against the Miss Universe organization in 2012, celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred took on the case. Allred launched an attack on the pageant and Mr. Trump himself. But the franchise owner hit back, saying Allred had nothing to do with the rule change.
Trump told CNN at the time, “We made the decision two days before we even heard that (Allred) was involved. Had I known she was involved, maybe I wouldn’t have made that decision because she’s so easy to beat.”
He fired back at Allred via Twitter later, calling her a “third rate lawyer,” and asking, “Is Gloria a man or a woman??? —- few men would know the answer to that one.”
Miss Universe President Paula Shugart backed up Mr. Trump’s claims in 2012, saying, “The decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD and not Jenna’s legal representation, which if anything delayed the process.
“We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”