In a remarkable achievement for the transgender community, Rikkie Valerie Kolle has emerged as the winner of Miss Universe Netherlands, making history as the first transgender contestant to claim the crown in the country.
The 22-year-old model and actress triumphed over strong competition, earning the opportunity to represent the Netherlands in the renowned Miss Universe pageant set to take place in El Salvador.
With her victory, Kolle expressed her overwhelming joy and gratitude, stating, “I did it! It feels unreal, but I can now proudly call myself Miss Netherlands 2023. This journey has been an enlightening and beautiful experience. I am incredibly proud and unable to put my happiness into words. I want to make my community proud and demonstrate that any dream is attainable.”
Kolle’s win serves as a pivotal moment for the inclusion and acceptance of transgender individuals in the world of beauty pageants. While she embraces her transgender identity and intends to share her story, she also emphasizes the significance of being recognized as herself.
The triumph of transgender contestants in beauty pageants has gained momentum in recent years, reflecting a growing commitment to diversity and inclusivity. In 2021, Kataluna Enriquez, a biological male, achieved a groundbreaking feat by winning the title of Miss Nevada USA, becoming the first transgender person to do so in the pageant’s history.
Kolle follows in the footsteps of Angela Ponce, who became the first openly transgender contestant to compete in the Miss Universe competition when she represented Spain in 2018.
The Miss Universe organization has been allowing transgender contestants since 2012, leading to a gradual increase in the participation of trans women in preliminary pageants.
The continued progress towards inclusivity in beauty pageants is evident as more trans women assert their rightful place on the stage. In the upcoming Miss Universe Puerto Rico pageant, trans woman and activist Daniela Arroyo González is set to compete for the coveted title, further solidifying the representation of transgender individuals in the pageant world.
Under new ownership, the Miss Universe Organization has taken a significant step towards inclusivity. Thai business mogul and trans activist, Anne Jakrajutatip, who herself is transgender, acquired the organization last year. Jakrajutatip has expressed a firm commitment to promoting inclusivity and transforming the brand into a platform that embraces the diversity of the next generation.