The Philippines’ Catriona Gray bested contestants from 93 other nations to win the Miss Universe 2018 pageant on Monday night. But reports about the competition this week focused on a contestant who failed to make it into the top 20.
The 27-year-old contestant from Spain, who goes by the name Angela Ponce, was the first transgender entrant in pageant history. In 2012, the organization, owned at the time by now–President Donald Trump, dropped its requirement that contestants be “naturally born” females after a rejected transgender contestant threatened to sue.
“Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long,” Ponce told Time magazine in November. “If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women.”
But critics argue Ponce’s participation is nonsensical for a pageant that this year proudly boasted its first all-female judging panel and titled its competition “Empowered Women.”
“Technology might disguise that truth, but no amount of medicine or mutilation can coax Ponce’s chromosomes into submission,” wrote Alexandra DeSanctis for National Review. “This is the charade we are being asked to accept. It is not enough to say, as we should, that gender dysphoria is a real psychological phenomenon, that a just and compassionate society ought to recognize the reality of the struggle people like Ponce face, and that bullying and hatred directed at such people is evil and wrong. We are also meant to chant along with the crowd that Ponce is a woman.”
DiSanctis argued the modern feminist critique of the so-called patriarchy is missing its biggest target.
“The wholehearted embrace of transgender ideology necessarily, and quite intentionally, erases womanhood,” DiSanctis wrote. “It allows biological males to don the mantle of femaleness simply by asserting that it is their birthright. There has never been a more patriarchal claim.” —K.C.