Transgender Miss Universe contestant Angela Ponce has message for Trump

Miss Universe 2018 contestant Angela Ponce

Transgender Miss Universe contestant Angela Ponce has said that her victory would send a message to the contest’s former owner, US President Donald Trump.

Angela Ponce is set to represent Spain in the Miss Universe 2018 pageant, which is set to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 17.

Her participation is particularly poignant as the contest was owned by Donald Trump until 2015, when he offloaded the business in the run-up to his run for president.

Miss Universe contestant Angela Ponce stands up to Donald Trump

Speaking to TIME, the 27-year-old Miss Spain said: “I’m showing that trans women can be whatever they want to be: a teacher, a mother, a doctor, a politician and even Miss Universe.”

Addressing the Trump administration’s anti-transgender actions, Ponce said her victory would be an important symbol in a contest many still associate with the leader.

“If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women.”

— Miss Spain Angela Ponce

She said: “More than a message to him, it would be a win for human rights. 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.”

Ponce added that she would still have competed in the contest if she had been allowed to when it was owned by Trump.

Miss Universe contestant Angela Ponce says she wants to send a message to Donald Trump

Transgender Miss Universe contestant Angela Ponce said she wanted to “give a lesson to the world of tolerance and respect towards oneself and towards others.”

The beauty queen said: “I would. I like to think that most people who don’t understand me, it’s not because they’re bad people.

“It’s because no one taught them about diversity. What you don’t talk about doesn’t exist—even though trans people have been here since there were people on earth.”

The contestant has had a long road to the pageant, competing in 2015’s Miss World Spain contest, only to find out the rules barred transgender women.

She said: “It wasn’t easy… I found out on the day of the competition that their rules didn’t allow a transgender woman to win. It crushed me.

“I had to go on and perform, and it felt horrible. But after I got to the Miss Universe final, Miss World changed their rules too. I changed the rules.”

Miss Spain Angela Ponce is the favourite to win Miss Universe 2018

Angela Ponce, who beat 20 other contestants in the Miss Universe Spain competition to qualify to represent the country, is the favourite to win Miss Universe.

Ponce, who lives in the Spanish city of Seville, wrote on Instagram after her win: “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.”

Miss Universe Canada faced legal action in 2012 when model Jenna Talackova was blocked from competing for being transgender.

In 2017, former Miss Universe winner Pia Wurtzbach apologised after saying in an interview that she wanted a gay child to dress her and do her make-up.