Transgender activist Daniela Arroyo González has been selected as the first trans woman to compete in the Puerto Rico Miss Universe pageant this year.
After winning a federal lawsuit against the Puerto Rican government, González is best known for her fight — which she started at age 18 — to allow Puerto Ricans to change their gender markers on their birth certificates.
She is also a co-founder of the Puerto Rico Trans Youth Coalition, an advocacy group that provides a safe support group for trans youth in the U.S. territory.
González will compete among other women representing the island’s 78 municipalities for the Miss Universe Puerto Rico title. The winner will go on to compete in the global pageant.
The pageant’s Instagram account announced González’s participation in a post last week.
“She longs to live in a less polarized society,” the caption reads, in Spanish, “where differences can be appreciated and embraced as something positive that unites instead of something that separates.”
González also shared a joyful announcement on Instagram, smiling brightly in a pink blazer. “Grateful and excited to take you with me on this journey,” her caption reads, in Spanish. “Let’s make history together!”
Why is this good news?
The Miss Universe pageant has allowed transgender participation since 2012, and the first trans woman competed in the global event in 2018.
However, this is the first time a trans woman has been among Puerto Rico’s local competitors — and shows promising resistance, as basic human rights for trans folks are threatened by lawmakers around the country.
Another reason to celebrate trans representation in the pageant world is that Thai trans businesswoman Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip bought the Miss Universe pageant last fall, a revolutionary change from the pageant’s former ownership (which once included former president and anti-trans billionaire Donald Trump).
“My life purpose here is to help other people to transform, to lead, to teach, and to inspire people,” Jakrajutatip told VOA News in February 2023.
“This is the new paradigm of the beauty competition, which I don’t see as the beauty competition alone. It’s actually a female platform to raise awareness. Therefore, the whole world can listen to them.”
Although beauty pageants have been scrutinized for decades, many contestants do find the pageants to be empowering and philanthropic.
Besides, after a federal court ruled just last November that the Miss United States of America pageant was able to ban trans women from competition, it’s certainly good news to see increased trans representation across the entertainment and beauty industry wherever we can.