(CNN) — Rikkie Kollé became the first openly trans pageant contestant to win the title of Miss Netherlands on Saturday, and she will go on to represent her country in Miss Universe later this year.
“I did it!” Kollé wrote in a joyous Instagram post after her win at the AFAS Theater in Leusden. “I made my community proud and showed it can be done,” she added in Dutch with an emoji of the light blue, light pink and white-striped trans flag.
Throughout the competition, which narrowed down hundreds of entrants to 10 finalists in April, Kollé has used her platform to promote a more inclusive vision of the pageant world, and to encourage others to feel inspired.
“Miss Universe asked us to describe ourselves in one word,” Kollé shared in a video posted to her Instagram page last month. “The word I’m choosing is ‘victory,’ because 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.”
“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!” she wrote in the accompanying caption. “Never let someone tell you what’s good for you, because the only thing that matters is that you become the best version of yourself.”
Kollé, who is 22 years old and from Breda, was crowned onstage by last year’s winner, Ona Moody. She was also presented her sash by the reigning Miss Universe, R’Bonney Gabriel.
If Kollé wins Miss Universe, she will be the first trans women to wear its tiara. The pageant has allowed trans participants since 2012, and in 2018, Ángela Ponce from Spain became the pageant’s first out contestant, but she did not advance to the finals.
Next month, activist Daniela Arroyo González will also look to make history as the first out trans woman to win Miss Universe Puerto Rico, and will advance to Miss Universe as well if crowned. This year, 90 women from around the world will compete in the 2023 pageant, according to its website.
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