The Miss Universe beauty pageants have been making important strides in diversity and representation within the last few years. We’ve seen many important firsts like Miss Spain Angela Ponce participating as the first-ever transgender Miss Universe contestant in 2018, Miss Myanmar Swe Zin Htet who was the first openly gay contestant in 2019, and Miss Puerto Rico Michelle Marie Colón who was the first Afro-Latina from the island to win the crown in 2021. This month, the Miss Universe Puerto Rico organization announced that history would be made yet again with Daniela Arroyo González, who will be the first out trans woman to compete in Miss Universe Puerto Rico. Especially when anti-trans bills are on the rise in the U.S., this news that will further trans representation and rights on the international stage could not come at a better time.
“The emotion and pride I feel at this moment overwhelms me with joy,” González said in a recent Instagram video following the official announcement. “Having the courage to dream big and follow your heart always leads us to success or, in the best case, it leads us to change the world into a better one…It’s time to show how far we can go. This is my time.”
González first identified as a girl when she was three years old, came out to her mother as trans when she was 14, and began to transition soon after. But even before her Miss Universe breakthrough, González has always been a vocal activist to protect and advocate for trans rights in Puerto Rico. She is one of the co-founders of the Puerto Rico Trans Coalition, which creates safe spaces and support networks for trans youth on the island. She was also part of a group that sued the Puerto Rican government to give trans people the right to change the gender marker on their birth certificates and other legal documents. She’s not only a changemaker, she’s truly advocating for her community and working toward progress for trans people.
“She longs to live in a less polarized society, where differences can be appreciated and embraced as something positive that unites rather than divides,” the official Miss Universe Puerto Rico Instagram said about González in their announcement post.
It’s been over a decade since the ban against trans women competing in the Miss Universe pageant was lifted in 2012, a policy that was instated by the previous pageant owner and former President Trump, who co-owned the Miss Universe Organization from 1996 to 2015. It’s amazing to see what strides have been made in the competition but it’s also clear how much further we have to go. In the meantime, we’re excited to see González making her Miss Universe debut and representing Puerto Rico.