Angela Ponce, a transgender, 2018 Miss Universe-Spain
Photo from Angela Ponce’s Instagram
Should transgender be allowed to compete in pageants for girls?
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - July 6, 2018 - 12:00am

That question cropped up after Angela Ponce, a transgender, won 2018 Miss Spain as the country’s bet in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant with the Philippines’ Catriona Grey among the contenders. Ponce was not the first transgender to win in a pageant for girls. In 2012, Jenna Talackova, a model and TV personality, created a stir when she waged a legal battle to be allowed to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant after being initially disqualified for being a transgender. She reached the Top 12 but failed to land in the Top 5. That was two years after she competed in the 2010 Miss International Queen pageant for transgender and transsexual women in Thailand.

Should transgender be allowed to compete in pageants for girls?

Funfare fielded seven beauty experts to answer that ticklish question.

Gloria Diaz, 1969 Miss Universe

Gloria Diaz, 1969 Miss Universe: You know, times have changed. Now, we see older and worldly almost professional contestants, enhanced and more adjusted. Somehow, I know that one day it will be acceptable but for now, maybe they (transgender) have their own contests to join. And mind you, many transgender are gorgeous!

Margie Moran, 1973 Miss Universe

Margie Moran, 1973 Miss Universe: There was a time when women joining beauty pageants were natural beauties untouched by doctors. This time, not only are contestants physically enhanced, transgender can join and win. The Miss Universe pageant should be exclusively for women. Transgender should have their own (contest) simply because they were not born women.

Lorraine Schuck, former beauty queen and executive vice president of Carousel Productions which is behind the annual search for Miss Earth-Philippines and Miss Earth

Lorraine Schuck, former beauty queen and executive vice president of Carousel Productions which is behind the yearly search for Miss Earth-Philippines (this year won by Fil-Italian charmer Celeste Cortesi) and Miss Earth: Cool and good luck to Angela Ponce!

Joel Lamangan, award-winner director

Joel Lamangan, award-winner director: I think it is not fair game! Miss Universe must only be a competition among women, original women, born a woman! But I am not against a Miss Universe contest for transgender. It will be an exciting beauty contest!

Renee Salud, fashion designer and beauty-queen discoverer

Renee Salud, fashion designer and beauty-queen discoverer: Miss Universe is a traditional beauty contest for heterosexual, so let the tradition live. LGBT has its own platform to present its beauty and talent so they should just make their contest bigger and more prestigious than the Miss Universe pageant. It should be beautiful transgender against beautiful transgender from all over the world!

Jonas Gaffud, Mercator head and member of Aces & Queens which grooms beauty queens

Jonas Gaffud, member of Aces & Queens (the team that grooms beauty queens that bring home crowns from abroad): Angela Ponce’s win is a trailblazer. First, her win is an actualization of a progressive rule of Miss Universe that does not prohibit transgender to compete in the pageant. This has been allowed years back, but this is the first time that one has won a national pageant. Second, that win is also symbolic and is a triumph for the struggle of transwomen for acceptance. Sure, she will create a buzz, but I hope people will see her for who she is, and will listen to her story. And in the end, when she competes in the Miss Universe pageant, she will be treated fairly, just like the other candidates.

Cory Quirino, former national director of Miss World Philippines

Cory Quirino, former head of the annual search for Miss World-Philippines: There was a time when men were men, and women were women. But the phenomenon of the 21st century is the diversification of genders. Thus, the emergence of LGBTQ. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes gender dysphoria, the fact that a person may not feel like the sex they were born in. This will soon dramatically redefine beauty pageants from hereon after Angela Ponce’s win as Miss Universe Spain. What a historic victory!

That means that the judges saw her as the epitome of a Spanish woman. During the six years that I was national director of Miss World Philippines, the international organization was silent on the issue of transgender. Although no formal and official statements were released, there was a general sentiment in place which supported the practice of accepting biologically-born women as contestants.

As I understood it, Mireia Lalaguna beat Ms. Ponce in the national pageant of Miss World Spain. Mireia went on to win the Miss World crown in 2015. Our bet then was Hillarie Parungao who placed in the Top 10. It was disappointing because she won a major award, Best in Multimedia, that normally allowed the winner into the Top 7.

Did the Miss World Organization know that their national director in Spain allowed a transgender in the competition? I can only guess. Perhaps not. Most definitely with Miss Universe trailblazing the way for transgender, this will pose a challenge to Miss World.

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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