The Miss Universe Organization on Wednesday introduced this year’s aspiring queens, including the Philippines’ Catriona Gray and Spain’s Angela Ponce, the international pageant’s first transgender contestant.
The inclusion of Ponce in the intro reel on Miss Universe’s official Facebook page ends months-long speculation surrounding her eligibility.
Ponce, 26, makes history as the first transwoman to join Miss Universe on the world stage. Prior to her, Jenna Talackova of Canada broke barriers in 2012, when the then-Donald Trump-owned pageant backtracked its decision to disqualify her, on the basis of being transgender, from joining the national pageant.
While Talackova ultimately competed in Miss Universe Canada, she only finished in the top 12, falling short of clinching the crown that would have taken her to the international Miss Universe pageant.
Leading up to the introduction of the 2018 candidates, the Philippines’ Gray had said she has “no problem” with the inclusion of a transwoman as a contestant, but that she would leave the matter to the prerogative of the organization.
Gray, a top five finalist of the Miss World 2016 pageant, has courted popular support among local pageant fans, and recently made headlines when she was tapped as a model for designer Sherri Hill during New York Fashion Week.
The Philippines, which hosted the annual pageant in 2016, is looking to celebrate a fourth “queen” after Pia Wurtzbach took home the crown in 2015.
Miss Universe 2018, its 67th edition, will be held later this year in Bangkok, Thailand.