Steven Sanchez, 21, made history at the University of Northern Iowa when his fellow students crowned him the first-ever transgender homecoming queen. (Steven identifies as both male and female — so I'm not misgendering him, just to be clear).
According to the Des Moines Register, Sanchez was forced to drop out of high school because of relentless bullying. He later earned his diploma at a community college, and now he finally feels at home at UNI. Says David Pope, the president of UNI Proud and a friend of Steven's, "Even though Steven has dealt with a lot of bullying and cruelty in his past, he’s just unabashedly himself. I think a lot of people on campus are inspired by that, and feel they can be more like themselves around him."
Steven performs under the name Lola at various campus events. At the Homecoming Royalty Competition, Lola rapidly become a crowd favorite, performing two Selena Gomez songs (very good choice, Lola. Very good.). By the end of the competition, a standing-room only crowd had amassed inside of the campus auditorium. When Steven's name was announced, everyone erupted into applause.
“I never would have thought years ago that I’d be standing on a stage, people cheering for me because they voted me homecoming queen,” Sanchez told the Register. “It was unbelievable.” And now, if you will excuse me, I need to track down all of the tissues.
"Trailblazing UNI transgender student is named homecoming queen" [Des Moines Register]
Image via Des Moines Register.