The first ever transgender Miss Universe contestant is now the odds-on favorite to win, and according to some bookmakers, it’s not even close. And the would-be Miss Universe is using the platform to send not just a “message” to Trump, but the world.
After winning the 2018 Miss Universe Spain pageant, Angela Ponce, a biological male who has undergone gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy, has not only become the first trans contestant in the Miss Universe competition, but the odds makers’ hands-down favorite.
“As the competition nears, online bookies are taking action, and Ponce has grown to become the clear favorite with current odds of +600,” The Blast reports. “The folks at MyBookie.ag compiled their list of where all the countries currently stand. To put it in perspective, the Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers has odds of +2,000 if she wins the whole competition.”
As the gamblers put money on Ponce, the trans contestant has been using the press leading up to the December 16 contest to promote the transgender movement.
Asked by Time if the inclusion of a transgender contestant in this year’s competition would send a message to Trump, the former owner of Miss Universe, Ponce said, “More than a message to him, it would be a win for human rights.”
“Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women,” said Ponce, who claims to have identified as female at the age of three.
Miss Universe announced in 2012 that it would allow biologically male contestants who identified as women after a successful lawsuit by a Canadian transgender model, Jenna Talackova, the Daily Mail notes.
After losing to Miss Barcelona Mireia Lalaguna in 2015, Ponce ran again in 2018 and won the top prize. “My goal is to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect and diversity not only for the LGBTQ+ community but also for the entire world,” Ponce wrote in an Instagram post after winning.
Here’s video of the event posted by Pageant Zone:
Ponce’s win in Spain is not the first time a man who identifies as a women has won a high-profile female-exclusive contest. The most famous instance came in 2015, when Caitlyn Jenner, 66, won one of Glamour’s “Women of the Year” awards. In Jenner’s acceptance speech, the gold medal winner in the male Olympic decathlon said, “For years and years, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I always felt as an outsider; I never felt good in the male side, and I wasn’t obviously in the female side. I was kind of stuck in the middle.”
The question of the fairness of biological males competing in female contests has become a hot button issue, particularly in sports, where it has become increasingly prominent and males often have clear advantages, even when undergoing hormone therapy.