December 11, 2018
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Trans Miss Universe finalist says her achievement will save lives

Bangkok, Dec 5 (efe-epa).- Miss Spain, the first transgender Miss Universe finalist, underlined the high rates of suicide in the trans community all over the world and said her achievement would motivate many to continue to live.

Angela Ponce, who was busy attending charity events on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Miss Universe 2018 pageant to be held in Bangkok on Dec. 17, said being in the final round of the contest had given her a voice.

"Being here gives me a chance to be a voice and that is my personal crown. It allows me to motivate a lot of people. There are people who, just because of the simple fact that I am here, continue to live, that is my pride," said the model and LGBT activist.

Ponce, who was crowned Miss Spain in June, said in an interview to EFE in Bangkok that she was grateful for the love, and has learnt to accept the hate.

"I come prepared psychologically because I have reached a degree of acceptance with myself (because of which) hurting me can be very complicated," said Ponce, who anchors a national television program where she interviews women pioneers.

"I'm an authentic, loving woman and a dreamer. And that's the point, sometimes dreams are fulfilled," she said with a confident smile.

In 2012, the pageant rules were changed and had opened up the contest to transgender women.

However, Ponce's participation in the pageant has also received criticism from some fellow contestants as well as in the media.

"Many of these comments come from ignorance," said the 27-year-old blonde beauty from Sevilla.

She pointed out the need for education in schools to explain gender diversities and choices.

"For a long time I didn't understand my situation. If I could not manage to locate myself, imagine my colleagues. If they had access to the information (currently available), I would not have suffered bullying in school, I would not have felt different or my academic training would not have been cut short," she recalled, adding that change was on its way, albeit slowly.

"The simple fact that I am in (the finals of) Miss Universe is a breakthrough," Ponce said.

The debate surrounding her participation, she points out, should be used to break the taboo surrounding transgender people.

"To say: Here I am and if I have made it, you too can," said Ponce, who also works with an association that employs women at risk of exclusion in its sewing workshops, and who have made part of the costumes she would be wearing in the contest.

By Noel Caballero

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