She is beauty, she is grace, and “she” is actually a “he.”
This variation of William Shatner’s song in the movie “Miss Congeniality” may have come to mind Saturday, when transgender model Rikkie Valerie Kollé, a biological man, was crowned Miss Universe Netherlands
Kollé, 22, is the first transgender woman to win in the 94-year history of the Miss Universe pageant in the Netherlands.
“Yes, I am a trans woman and I want to share my story, but I am also Rikkie and that is what matters to me,” Kollé said on his Instagram account. “I did this on my own and enjoyed every moment of it.”
Kollé’s win in the Dutch contest comes after another transgender woman, Thai business mogul Anne Jakrajutatip, bought the rights to the Miss Universe pageant in 2022 from former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Jakrajutatip, 44, is an outspoken activist who is the founder and president of a transgender rights organization called Life Inspired for Transsexual Foundation.
“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 said about the future of the Miss Universe pageant, according to the Daily Mail.
In January, Kollé had gender-reassignment surgery. Since 1984, residents of the Netherlands, also known as Holland, may legally “change” their gender; the law requires them to undergo gender-reassignment surgery and sterilization.
The Netherlands also is home to the Dutch Party for Neighborly Love, Freedom, and Diversity, a political party that advocates legalizing the separation of parents and children and child use of pornography.
Critics took to Twitter to criticize Kollé’s victory over his biological female competitors.
The comments section of both Miss Universe Netherlands’ official Instagram account and first runner-up Nathalie Mogbelzada’s Instagram account have been flooded with messages from users expressing their support for Mogbelzada and disdain for what the competition has become.
“You stand for women’s rights. We’ve lost them to men who’ve been converted to women,” one Instagram user wrote to Mogbelzada.
Kollé will become the second trans woman to compete in Miss Universe’s global pageant, after Spain’s Angela Ponce in 2018, HuffPost reported. The pageant’s parent organization began allowing transgender women to compete in 2012.
Another transgender woman, Puerto Rico’s Daniela Victoria Arroyo González, will compete in his country’s Miss Universe competition later this year.
This article was modified shortly after publication to correctly identify the pageant in which Nguyen competed.
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