Transgender student makes history as prom queen
History was made at Florida’s McFatter Technical High School on May 27, 2011. Andrew Viveros (Andii) fought to have his name on the ballot for Prom Queen. She competed against fourteen girls for the title. Andii is believed to be the first transgender student to attain the title at a public high school in the United States.
Andii is also president of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. In her campaign speech she stated, “Why would I run for prom king? I’ll have to wear a tux, which I’m not going to do,” Viveros said. “I’m going to wear an evening gown.” After winning, she said she always wanted to be queen of something since she was eight years old.
Another member of the Alliance was Juan Macias who was elected prom king. For more about Gay-Straight Alliances at school and the federal Department of Education effort to reduce bullying of LGBT students, click here.
Since Andii’s election, she has been overwhelmed with interviews and invitations to speak. “I am trying to do every interview I can,” Viveros said. “I don’t want to turn anyone down. Anyone might be watching or reading.” Viveros, who says she is now being recognized in public, has set up her own website since winning the crown. On the site, she encourages others to “Tell Me Your Story!” Andii commented that “I want people to know there is someone they can talk to” and that “it does get better.”
You can read this recent report about the growing number of transgender children seeking help from professionals. Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is the psychological diagnosis used to describe a male or female who feels a strong identification with the opposite sex and experiences considerable distress because of their actual sex (the word “disorder” refers to the distress the person feels, not the fact that they identify with another gender).
Historical Note: In 1980, a federal court in Rhode Island ruled that school officials could not prevent a senior high school student from attending his prom with a male escort. Fricke v. Lynch, 491 F.Supp. 381 (Rhode Island 1980).
The Fricke court stated: “But, in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression. Any departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble. Any variation from the majority’s opinion may inspire fear. Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on the campus, that deviates from the views of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance. But our Constitution says we must take this risk, Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1, 69 S.Ct. 894, 93 L.Ed. 1131 (1949); and our history says that it is this sort of hazardous freedom this kind of openness that is the basis of our national strength and of the independence and vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society.”
Although Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been abolished for gays in the military, the transgender population was ignored in the debate. A survey conducted in 2011 by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality reported that discrimination is encountered at every turn by transgender people. According to the survey of over 6,000 transgender people, 41% reported attempted suicide, 26% reported losing jobs due to their gender identity, and 19% reported being denied a home or apartment. Efforts to pass a federal law barring discrimination to this segment of the population have thus far failed.
Update: On September 20, 2013, transgender student, Cassidy Lynn Campbell, age 16, was elected homecoming queen at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. Cassidy had been undergoing hormone treatment for some time and logged over 18,000 followers on YouTube. The senior commented that “I realized it wasn’t for me anymore,” Campbell said of her homecoming queen candidancy. “I was doing this for so many people all around.”