On a landmark Saturday, the Miss Universe Netherlands pageant was won by a transgender contestant, Rikkie Valerie Kolle, for the first time in the country’s history. The 22-year-old model and actress of Dutch-Moluccan heritage is set to compete in the forthcoming Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador.
A Proud Achievement for Rikkie Valerie Kolle
With immense pride, Kolle expressed her joy at the victory, “It’s unreal, but I get to call myself Miss Netherland 2023,” she said in her Instagram statement. She also underlined her identity, stating, “And, yes, I’m trans and want to share my story, but I’m also Rikkie, and that’s what matters to me.” Kolle’s victory was not easily achieved. The competition was fierce, with contenders like Habiba Mostafa, Lou Dirchs, and Nathalie Mogbelzada. Rikkie’s victory has solidified her eligibility to compete for the coveted 72nd Miss Universe crown. Last year’s champion, Ona Moody, presented Kolle with her prize onstage, while R’Bonney Gabriel, the current Miss Universe, adorned her with the sash. Kolle’s journey to her current self began at an early age when she changed her name from Rik to Rikkie at 11 years old. She underwent gender-affirming surgery in January, marking a significant step in her transition.
Breaking Barriers in the Beauty Pageant Industry
Transgender representation in beauty pageants has been steadily growing in recent years, pushing boundaries and challenging norms. Kataluna Enriquez, a biological male, became the first person in pageant history to take home the title of Miss Nevada USA in 2021. Enriquez’s historic win further amplified the progress the pageant industry is making toward inclusion and diversity. The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf lauded Kolle’s performance, noting, “This finalist has radiated throughout the show and has also made the greatest progress in the process. She has a strong story with a clear mission. The jury is convinced that the organization will enjoy working with this young woman.”
Advocacy and Impact Beyond the Stage
Kolle plans to use her platform to advocate for a more inclusive vision of the pageant industry and inspire others to fight against discrimination. She has shown a fierce dedication to her cause, stating, “Never forget that we can do this together; you’re not alone on this planet. Never stop dreaming of being your ultimate and confident YOU!” Kolle’s historic victory is already inspiring change beyond the Netherlands. For the first time, neighboring Belgium decided that a 25-year-old transgender woman would be allowed to take part in their next national beauty contest.
A Community Empowered
Remke Verdegem, president of the Transgender Network, deemed the event “important and inspiring,” stating, “Rikkie showed how beautiful it is to be yourself, while many transgender people, unfortunately, remain the victims of rejection.”
Rikkie Kolle’s victory in Miss Universe Netherlands is monumental, marking a significant stride towards acceptance and inclusivity. This historic event sends a powerful message of representation to the transgender community and sets a progressive precedent for the beauty pageant industry. Learn more about the progression of transgender representation in beauty pageants.