Trans visibility debate takes center stage as Spain breaks Miss Universe barriers
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - December 17, 2018 - 8:15am

MANILA, Philippines — Spain’s Angela Ponce made history as the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe.

But the 27-year-old beauty queen’s bid to break barriers and bring visibility for her marginalized community in the beauty pageant that was previously exclusive to “naturally born” women is raising some eyebrows on social media.

“Its (sic) just a disgrace to all those who paved the way for the prestigious pageant to be where its (sic) at right now,” a Filipino Facebook user said in a post titled “The day Miss Universe died.”

“So kung pwede pala ito, pwede na rin natin pasalihin ang mga transgender women sa sports na pang babae?... Uulitin ko lang na wala akong pakialam kung anong kasarian ang gusto mong dalhin, pero may limitasyon ang lahat,” he added.

Ponce works with a foundation in Spain that helps trans children.

Despite the negative comments, members of the LGBT community and true allies have Ponce’s back.

In a separate social media post, one Filipino Facebook user was quick to call out other’s narrow assessments of gender and bigotry.

“You cannot mask your ignorance & transphobia with ‘I'm all for LGBT rights but I don't want transgenders to join the Miss Universe Pageant.’ That's in the same line of idiotic logic with ‘I have LGBT friends but I don't want to recognize their love thru marriage/union,’” he said.

“Transgenders are not people who woke up one day and realized ‘oh I want to be a woman,’ NO. They are people who at a young (or older*) age FEEL that they are born into the wrong bodies,” he added.

“I have no idea how Ms. Spain is doing in the pageant right now. My all out support still goes to Catriona [Gray]. I just don't want the whole universe to think that the PH is a nation of ignorant, transphobic, bigots.”

When the 66-year-old beauty pageant show was still owned by now US President Donald Trump — who feminists accuse of misogyny — Miss Universe held a longstanding ban on transgender contestants. This policy was officially reversed in 2012.

“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 the Agence France-Presse.

“No, I’m sorry. To be a woman is your identity. It doesn’t matter if you are white, black, if you have a vagina... if you have a penis.”

The Miss Universe crown and sash will be awarded Monday.

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