Angela Ponce, better known as the reigning Miss Spain, didn’t win the Miss Universe pageant Sunday.
But she didn’t seem to mind.
Simply by representing her country this year, Ponce became the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe. After the preliminary rounds, the 27-year-old model said it was “an honor and pride” to be part of the history of the pageant.
“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 on Friday. “And today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights.”
Though Miss Universe – and other beauty pageants – have undergone scrutiny (and changes) in recent years to avoid objectifying women, Ponce said she embraced the competition as a chance to fulfill not only her personal ambitions but to be an ambassador for Spanish culture.