Transgender woman wins Miss Netherlands for the first time and will be heading to Miss Universe

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Jul 11, 2023 at 01:36 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

The recent crowning of Rikkie Valerie Kolle as Miss Netherlands 2023 marks a significant milestone in the world of beauty pageants. With this historic win, Kolle has managed to become the first transgender woman to achieve such a distinction in the country’s competition’s 94-year history. The 22-year-old model won the title on Sunday 8 July, making her the one to represent the Netherlands in the Miss Universe pageant that will take place later in the year.

Celebrating her incredible achievement on Instagram, Kolle wrote: “I did it!” before switching to Dutch and adding: “It’s unreal but I get to call myself Miss Netherlands 2023. It was an educational and beautiful journey, my year can’t be broken anymore.”

 

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A post shared by Rikkie Valerie Kollé (@rikkievaleriekolle)

But this is not the only impressive milestone Kolle will reach this year. Following in the footsteps of Spanish contestant Angela Ponce in 2018, the model will become the second transgender woman to partake in Miss Universe, one of the Big Four international beauty pageants.

@missuniverse

Miss Universe Spain 2018 Angela Ponce made history by becoming the FIRST transgender woman to walk the MISS UNIVERSE stage. She showed us just how crucial it is to engage in open dialogues about LGBTQIA+ rights. Happy PrideMonth! At Miss Universe we embrace and celebrate diversity and inclusion. Throughout the month we will be featuring those who are a part of this organization's LGBTQIA+ history.

♬ original sound - Miss Universe

This year, the prestigious competition will be held in El Salvador, where R’Bonney Gabriel of the US will crown her successor. Kolle will be competing against 24 other Misses from their respective nations.

As much of a win, as this is for the LGBTQIA+ community, much more change must be achieved before we see the number of hate crimes against transgender individuals decrease.

In the UK, the Home Office reported that hate crimes against transgender persons increased by 56 per cent in a single year, from 2021 to 2022, as overall offences in England and Wales reached a new high. Surprisingly, the research also pointed out that this increase could be linked to “discussions on social media.”

Nonetheless, this groundbreaking moment should be celebrated for Kolle’s individual triumph and the step forward it represents for inclusivity within the world of beauty pageants. Beauty competitions have often been criticised for perpetuating harmful and narrow-minded beauty standards. We hope Kolle’s victory will inspire and empower more transgender individuals to participate in pageants, helping shift societal perceptions and norms.

Sadly, it’s impossible to discuss this situation without mentioning the disheartening statistics that show how uncommon it still is for a trans person to win any form of competition, an unfortunate reflection of the community’s everyday challenges. Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the participation of trans athletes in women’s sports. Although we won’t get into it in this article, we’ll let you guess our opinion on the matter…

Although Kolle’s victory is undoubtedly a significant step forward, the work toward inclusivity does not end here. It is crucial to view this triumph as a catalyst for further change. Society must continue to advocate for equal opportunities and representation for all genders.

Beauty pageants and the fashion industry as a whole have seen a shift towards embracing diversity, as well as challenging our norms, and must continue to actively create spaces that celebrate and empower individuals from all walks of life.

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