Transgender contestant tops online bet list

Miss Spain, Angela Ponce, poses at a charity event held Wednesday with members of Best Buddies, an organisation aiming to end isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). (EPA photo)

The first transgender Miss Universe contestant, Angela Ponce from Spain, is leading as one of the contest favourites among online bookies, 10 days before the crown winner will be announced on Dec 17 in Bangkok.

As the competition nears, fans are taking action and Ms Ponce has grown to become the clear favourite to bet on with current odds of +600 on the website MyBookie.ag. Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers has odds of +2,000 if she wins the whole competition, the website said. Ms Ponce from Seville was the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Universe Spain and hopes to be the first transgender person to win the Miss Universe title.

Emphasising her determination to promote gender equality and diversity, the Miss Universe contestant has said her victory would send a message to the contest's former owner, US President Donald Trump. "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," she told Time Magazine in an interview.

The 27-year-old rebutted criticism that pageants are sexist or outdated. "None of the contestants are forced to be there. I'm competing because it's what I've wanted to do since I was a little girl," she said. "I'm showing that trans women can be whatever they want to be: a teacher, a mother, a doctor, a politician and even Miss Universe."

Miss Universe 2018 contestants splash around in the waters off Koh Lan in Pattaya yesterday. Women representing 95 countries will participate in the 67th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Bangkok on Dec 17. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

Donald Trump, the former owner of Miss Universe, didn't allow transgender contestants until 2012.

Meanwhile, Ms Ponce claims to be enjoying her experience in Thailand.

On Tuesday, she tweeted, "I am beyond thankful to the @MissUniverse Organization for this enriching experience that will never be erased from my memory."

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