This year’s Miss Universe pageant included the 67-year-old competition’s first-ever transgender contestant, Angela Ponce of Spain, who finished outside the top 20 but received a hearty ovation when she walked the stage at the event.
Ponce won her country’s national pageant in June, which elevated her to the global competition in Bangkok.
In 2012, the Miss Universe competition changed its rules to allow transgender women to compete, but only after Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova and lawyer Gloria Allred threatened legal action against the then-owners of the competition — NBC and future president Donald Trump. He no longer owns the pageant.
Since the rule change, Ponce was the first transgender woman to win her national competition and qualify for the international pageant.
She said in a tweet in Spanish on Saturday that her appearance at the competition was for those who have no visibility or voice, because, she wrote, all people deserve a world of respect, inclusiveness, and freedom.
Es el momento de que se escuche nuestra voz alta, clara y directa, poner fin a un odio y violencia sin sentido. igualdad, respeto, inclusión, promover los derechos humanos ante el mundo y que mi participación en #MissUniverse pueda traer cambios visibles en la sociedad🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/0PZb5qbwYT— ANGELA PONCE (@angelaponceof) December 16, 2018
The Philippines’ Catriona Gray was named the winner of the competition, which concluded Monday.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report