The 2018 Miss Universe pageant is less than two weeks away, and The Blast reports that Spain’s contestant, Angela Ponce, is heavily favored to win.
The projection has angered some conservatives who are upset Ponce is transgender.
Ponce, who is making history as the first transgender woman ever to compete in the contest, has been open about the significance of her potential win. She told TIME last month that her victory would be a sharp rebuke of President Trump, who used to own the pageant.
“More than a message to him, it would be a win for human rights,” she said. “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.”
Ponce said that if Trump were still the owner, she would likely compete anyway. When people like the president have antipathy toward transgender people, she said, it’s simply a product of ignorance. “It’s because no one taught them about diversity,” she said. “What you don’t talk about doesn’t exist — even though trans people have been here since there were people on earth.”
Conservative media outlets have already sounded off on Ponce’s presence at the competition. Over at LifeSiteNews, Doug Mainwaring — who established anti-LGBTQ credentials with his ex-gay narrative during the marriage equality fight — insisted Ponce is “not a woman but a man,” misgendering her throughout an entire article on the subject published Wednesday.
Gwendolyn Landolt of the conservative group REAL Women of Canada told Mainwaring, “If [she] is in the Miss Universe competition and [she] wins, it just goes to show the whole thing is a joke.”
An article at Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire repeatedly describes Ponce as “biologically male” and “a man who identifies as a woman,” avoiding referring to her with any pronouns. “The question of the fairness of biological males competing in female contests has become a hot button issue, particularly in sports,” the article claims.
A column at The Blaze, also published Wednesday, states simply, “Somehow it doesn’t seem very fair, does it?” The article does not bother to explain why Ponce’s presence in the Miss Universe competition is unfair.
Regardless of whether she wins, Ponce has already secured her place in history. When she competed in Miss World in 2015, she learned the day of the competition that the rules prevented her from winning; that pageant has since changed its rules as well.
“By competing, I’ll make trans people more visible for everyone, which is a big step,” she told TIME. “I’m not nervous. I’m excited.”