​"Having a vagina doesn't make a woman."


Angela Ponce will become the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe competition ​pageant. 


Ponce won Spain's national beauty contest last month, giving her the opportunity to break the barriers of the fashion industry and ​challenge gender norms. 


“Having a vagina doesn’t make a woman,” she ​told the New York Times in an interview published Saturday. “Even if many people don’t want to see me as a woman, I clearly belong among them.” 


​​Ponce -- who is 27 years old -- sees herself as an ​activist and often gives talks to people struggling with transgender problems. 


She ​wrote on Instagram after her victory that her goal "is to be a spokesperson for a message of inclusion, respect and ​diversity not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but also for the entire world.”

Guillermo Escobar, the president of Spain’s national beauty contest, praised Ponce's achievement. 


“She is a pioneer, sending a message of equality and respect, but my hope is that we will eventually have many more candidates like her and this will no longer make the headlines,” he told The Times. 


What's the other side saying: Ponce's participation in the Miss Universe competition has sparked a conversation about whether she should be permitted to compete and, more broadly, about transgenderism in society.


Since Ponce has undergone hormonal treatment, vaginal plastic surgery and a breast enlargement, some critics believe Ponce's surgeries give her an unfair edge in the competition. 


Ponce thinks that's ridiculous. 


“When I hear that all the girls won’t be competing in equal conditions, I say that’s right, but only because I’ve actually had to make double the amount of efforts to get there, because I wasn’t gifted everything by nature," she said to The Times. 


Twitter users' comments about Ponce touched on various issues often raised in the cultural debate over transgenderism.


For example, several users argued that a woman should be defined by her biological gender at birth.

A tongue-in-cheek tweet by user @Chaviva9 suggested that the desire to integrate transgender contestants into the Miss Universe competition was an example of identity politics run amok. 

Another commenter thought Ponce could support transgender rights in a more effective way. 

David French, writing in the National Review in May, spelled out the concerns many conservatives have about what to many on the left is a simple matter of humanity, inclusion, and respect for basic human dignity.


French, acknowledging that "gender dysphoria is a 'persistent aspect of humanity,'" wrote that he confused to "concede that gender dysphoria trumps biology," or that "our culture should cease efforts towards 'ending' the dangerous notion that men or women should amputate healthy organs in the quest to sculpt their bodies to become something they’re not."


"Our culture is in the midst of a live and important dispute over the very nature of biological reality — and over the psychological and spiritual health of hundreds of thousands of precious souls — and now is not the time to abandon the field," he added.


French argued that "treating every single human being with dignity and respect means not just defending their constitutional liberties and showing them basic human kindness, it also means telling the truth."