Transgender model and actor Rikkie Valerie Kolle became the first male-born winner of the Miss Netherlands pageant on Saturday, held at the AFAS Theater in the town of Leusden. Kolle defeated nine female-born contestants to take home the crown for 2023, succeeding last year’s winner Ona Moody.
The 22-year-old will represent the Netherlands at the 72nd Miss Universe contest in El Salvador later this year, becoming only the second transgender contestant to advance to the international pageant. The first male-born Miss Universe contestant was Angela Ponce of Spain, who competed in 2018 but failed to advance to the final round.
In a sponsored Miss Universe Instagram post for Pride month, Kolle opted for “victory” as a one-word self-description, explaining “as a little boy, I conquered all the things that came through my path. And look at me now, standing here as a strong, empowering, and confident trans woman.”
“Love is love, be who you wanna be, and never forget, always celebrate your pride,” exclaimed the beauty queen, who has expressed a desire to be a role model for the queer community.
Another Instagram post explains that while Kolle “wasn’t born as the woman I wanted to be,” the young model fixed that just four months ago with surgery. “For ME, it completed the circle and brought me happiness,” Kolle concluded, without mentioning the exact nature of the procedure(s).
Former US president Donald Trump famously lifted the Miss Universe organization’s ban on transgender contestants in 2012 when he owned the competition. Canadian regional pageant winner Jenna Talackova had threatened a lawsuit after she was barred from the national Canadian pageant when it was discovered she was not a “naturally born female,” calling her exclusion “unjust” and demanding she be allowed to compete. Trump, after consulting with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (now simply called GLAAD), welcomed Talackova into the 2012 Miss Universe pageant and changed the rules so all transgender women could compete from 2013 forward.
Last year, 19-year-old Brian Nguyen became the first male-born contestant to win a Miss America pageant – specifically Miss Greater Derry, in the state of New Hampshire. The similarly-named Miss United States of America pageant, however, recently won a court victory affirming its First Amendment right to determine who competes in its events, including by rejecting trans applicants. It already bars contestants with felony convictions and those who have posed nude.