For the first time in history, a transgender woman has been named Miss Netherlands. Rikkie Valerie Kollé took the title of Miss Netherlands 2023 on Saturday and will advance to the Miss Universe Pageant later this year in El Salvador. She was crowned by her predecessor, Ona Moody, onstage at the AFAS Theater in Leusden.
“I DID IT !!!!!” Kollé wrote of her win on Instagram. “Yes I’m trans and I want to share my story but I’m also Rikkie and that’s what matters to me,” she said. “And wherever you are in the world, I want to be there for you and be the example that I missed as a little me.”
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Kollé is 22-years-old and is of Dutch and Indigenous Moluccan descent. She hails from the city of Breda (between Rotterdam and Antwerp). According to her finalist page, she did not initially feel supported when she came out as trans at a young age and wants to leave behind her pain and become a role model for young women and queer people.
Miss Universe has been occurring for 71 years and first allowed trans contestants to participate in the pageant in 2012. Kollé will be following in the footsteps of other trans Miss Universe competitors. Miss Spain, Angela Ponce, was Miss Universe’s first out trans contestant in 2018.
Thai business mogul and activist Anne Jakrajutatip bought the Miss Universe Organization last year and has said she is committed to making the brand a more inclusive platform for the upcoming generations of competitors and supporters. Jakrajutatip is transgender herself.
“I don’t call Miss Universe a beauty pageant anymore,” she told Metro Weekly in January. “I call it a women’s empowerment competition.”
Kollé has already made history by becoming the first trans Miss Netherlands and another opportunity to make history lies before her. If Kollé is crowned Miss Universe in December, she would be the first out trans woman to win the pageant.