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Miss Spain makes history as first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe pageant

First transgender Miss Universe contestant

She may not have won the crown, but Angela Ponce — better known as Miss Spain — has changed the course of pageant history forever. This year she became the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. 

She received a standing ovation from the crowd Sunday night as she walked down the runway raising her sash. "A walk to remember. A historic night for #MissUniverse," the pageant tweeted.

"This is for you, for those who have no visibility, no voice, because we all deserve a world of respect, inclusion and freedom," Ponce wrote on Instagram. "And today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights."

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Angela Ponce received a standing ovation from the crowd as she walked down the runway raising her sash. Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP/Getty Images

Ponce said she hoped to spread the messages of "equality, respect, inclusion and love" through her participation in the pageant.

The pageant announced in 2012 that it would allow transgender women to compete after transgender Miss Canada contestant Jenna Talackova threatened legal action. At that time, the Miss Universe Organization was still run by Donald Trump. "As long as she meets the standards of legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, which we understand that she does, Jenna Talackova is free to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe Canada pageant," former Trump attorney Michael Cohen said at the time.

But Talackova never advanced to the Miss Universe competition, making Ponce the first-ever transgender woman to do so. 

"I always say: having a vagina didn't transform me into a woman. I am a woman, already before birth, because my identity is here," Ponce told Agence France-Presse, gesturing to her head. 

"I'm showing that trans women can be whatever they want to be," Ponce told Time. "A teacher, a mother, a doctor, a politician and even Miss Universe."