Ponce bested 22 other candidates and will now go on to represent Spain and compete in the worldwide Miss Universe 2018 pageant, which will be hosted in the Philippines in December.
Her historic win comes just six years after pageant rules were changed to allow transgender women to compete. In 2012, Jenna Talackova successfully petitioned the pageant, which was owned at the time by Donald Trump, to allow her to compete for Miss Universe Canada. That year, Talackova had finished in the top twelve. Trump would later lose his partnership with NBC in 2015 after publicly making racist comments. He eventually sold the pageant to the WME/IMG talent agency, who kept the inclusive policy in place.
“I am very happy with what all this means,” said Ponce after her crowning on June 29th. “I want to give a lesson to the world of tolerance and respect towards oneself and towards others.”
Ponce had previously competed in the Miss World Spain pageant in 2015, however she was not able to take the crown.
“My biggest dream is to present the name and the colors of Spain before the universe,” Ponce said in a post on Instagram.” My goal is to be a spokesperson of a message of inclusion, respect, and diversity, not only for the LGBTQ+ community but also for the whole world.”