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Miss Netherlands crowns its first openly trans woman Rikkie Valerie Kollé

Rikkie Valerie Kollé has been named Miss Netherlands 2023, becoming the first transgender woman to take the title.

After winning the pageant on Saturday, Kollé will advance to represent her Dutch homeland at the Miss Universe pageant, set to take place in El Salvador later this year. The 22-year-old was crowned with a tiara by her predecessor, Ona Moody, onstage at the AFAS Theater in Leusden.

"I DID IT !!!!!" the model said in a post 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," Kollé wrote. "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."

Kollé, of Dutch and Indigenous Moluccan descent, is from the city of Breda, between Rotterdam and Antwerp. She said she wants to be a voice and role model for young women and queer people, according to her finalist page.

As someone who didn't feel supported after coming out as transgender at a young age, she said, she wants to leave those stories of suffering in the past.

Kollé won't be the first trans woman to compete for the Miss Universe crown. Angela Ponce became the pageant's first out trans contestant when she represented Spain in 2018. The 71-year-old competition first began allowing transgender contestants in 2012.

More trans women have been competing in the preliminary pageants in recent years. In 2021, former Miss Nevada Kataluna Enriquez became the first trans contestant in a Miss USA pageant. Trans woman and activist Daniela Arroyo González will compete for this year's Miss Universe Puerto Rico title next month.

Thai business mogul Anne Jakrajutatip, a trans activist who is also transgender, bought the Miss Universe Organization last year. She has said she's committed to advancing the organization as an inclusive platform and wants to transform the brand for the next generation.

"I don't call Miss Universe a beauty pageant anymore," the JKN Global CEO told Metro Weekly in January. "I call it a women's empowerment competition."

Kollé has another chance to make history: If she takes the Miss Universe title in December, she would be the first out trans woman to do so.

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