Asked when she first realized that she was a girl, Angela Ponce answered with her own question: “And when did you first know you were a boy?”

After winning Spain’s national beauty contest last month, Ms. Ponce will become the first transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. But she is also on a mission to challenge traditional concepts of gender and beauty, as well as to break down what she sees as unacceptable barriers in the fashion industry.

“Having a vagina doesn’t make a woman,” she said in an interview. “Even if many people don’t want to see me as a woman, I clearly belong among them.” Read the entire article by Raphael Minder on The New York Times here