Miss Spain hopeful aims for beauty pageant history as first transgender

Transgender Ángela Ponce is looking to go home with the top prize in Sunday's Miss World Spain contest - and shake up the world of beauty pageants while doing so.

Miss Spain hopeful aims for beauty pageant history as first transgender
Photo: Screenshot from Fundacion Daniela.

She already holds the title of Miss Cadiz and will be taking a big step for the transgender community on Sunday in Málaga as she hopes to become the first trans woman to win Miss World Spain.

Ponce said she hopes that her participation will help bring more visibility to others like her.

“Society is not brought up to be educated about diversity,” Ponce told news agency EFE. “This is what made me go public. I want to say, here I am and I am not weird, I only have a different history. A woman for whom life came about in another way, but I am a woman.”

Ponce is representing Cádiz, though she was born in Seville, but she said she is happy to represent the city where she spent many summers. 

If she wins, she would go on to participate in the Miss World competition in China this December.

She has also been working with the Daniela Foundation to raise awareness about transsexual and transgender individuals.


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Posted by Fundacion Daniela on Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The first beauty pageant contestant to make headlines for breaking boundaries was Jenna Talackova, who in 2012 won a legal battle to be able to compete in Miss Universe Canada. Talackova didn't take away the national prize, but was named Miss Congeniality.

The 23-year-old Ponce says she knew her whole life that she was a girl, born in a boy's body, but didn't know how to explain it.

She currently works as a model as well as at her parents' restaurant and said she wants to go to university and study English.

“The basis of everything has been that my family supports me,” She told EFE. “When I was little, I would go with my brother shopping and my parents told me that I could get a toy. I remember going to the dolls and taking a Barbie and saying 'this is what I want'. They never told me 'no, boys play with balls and cars and girls play with dolls'.

“My father took the Barbie and put together the doll with me. So amid the bad times, I've been very lucky.”

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Spain backs bill to allow transgender people to easily change gender and name on ID

Spain's left-wing government on Tuesday approved a draft bill that would allow any transgender person over 16 to change their gender and name on their official ID document by presenting a simple statement.

Spain backs bill to allow transgender people to easily change gender and name on ID
Photo: Jose Jordán/AFP

If adopted by parliament, the bill will make Spain one of the few countries in Europe to permit gender self-determination.

“We’ve approved a bill which will guarantee real and effective equality for trans people and will ensure important rights for LGBTI people that are currently being violated in our country,” said Equality Minister Irene Montero during a press conference.

According to a draft of the bill seen by AFP, any Spaniard over 16 “will be able to apply to change the sex of their entry in the civil registry office”.

They will also be able to change their given name.

Crucially, the change will be made on the basis of a simple statement, dropping a previous requirement for them to first submit medical reports or undergo hormonal treatment.

Unveiled during Madrid’s Pride Week, the bill could even allow those as young as 14 to make the change, but only under certain conditions.

“During this Pride Week, we are making history with a law that will take a giant step forward for LGBTI rights and particularly the rights of transgender people,” Montero said.

“We recognise the right for self-determination of gender identity and undertake ‘de-pathologisation’ meaning trans people will no longer be considered ill and won’t be required to have any kind of psychiatric or medical report in order to be recognised,” she said.

But the legislation sparked tensions between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists and their hard-left junior coalition partner Podemos.

Earlier this year, deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said she was “particularly concerned by the idea gender could be chosen on the basis of will alone, thereby jeopardising the identity… of the rest of Spain’s 47 million inhabitants”.

The two sides eventually agreed to include a cooling-off period following presentation of the application, with the applicant required to reconfirm their wish three months later.

“This law puts us at the forefront in Europe in terms of recognising the rights of LGBTI people and particularly of trans people,” Montero said.

According to the LGBTI group ILGA, at least 25 UN member states “allow for legal gender recognition without prohibitive requirements.”

But only around 15 countries allow transgender people to change their status on the basis of a simple declaration.

In some countries, the process can take years and may include requirements such as a psychiatric diagnosis, hormone treatment, gender reassignment surgery or even sterilisation.