New Miss Netherlands speaks out after becoming first transgender woman to win
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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@rikkievaleriekolle
The winner of 2023's Miss Netherlands competition has made history by being the first transgender woman to earn the crown.
Transgender women were first invited to join the competition in 2012, when a rule change meant that hopeful contestants did not have to have been born female to enter.
However, it wasn't until 2018 that Angela Ponce, from Spain, became the first transgender woman to step on to the stage.
She was followed by Kataluna Enriquez, who joined the Miss USA pageant in 2021.
This year, 22-year-old Rikkie Valerie Kollé entered the Miss Netherlands pageant with the hope of following in the footsteps of 2022 winner, Ona Moody.
On Sunday (9 July), Kollé's dream came true as she was named the winner.
Kollé expressed her delight at the win in a post on Instagram, alongside an image of her accepting the crown.
“I did it!," she wrote. "It's unreal but I get to call myself @missnederland 2023. It was an educational and beautiful journey... I'm so proud and happy I can't even describe it. Making my community proud and showing it can be done.
"And yes I’m trans and I want to share my story but I’m also Rikkie and that’s what matters to me. Did this on my own and loved every moment of it."
Kollé went on to thank the judges, and added: "My dearest fellow finalists, we all put on a show, love you all girls. My dear family and friends, my N1 supporters, you have given me so much extra strength."
After her win, Kollé shared plans to use her platform to empower others and fight discrimination.
"Wherever you are in the world, I want to be there for you and be the example that I myself missed as a little me," she said.
Her win comes after the Miss Universe Organization was taken over last year by Thai businesswoman and transgender advocate, Anne Jakkapong Jakrajutatip, who is a trans woman herself.
In a press release after the purchase, Jakrajutatip said: "We seek not only to continue its legacy of providing a platform to passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation."
Jakrajutatip's purchase of the competition made her the first woman to own it in its 71-year history.