A 16-year-old transgender girl has been crowned homecoming queen at a Southern California high school just over a month after the state's governor signed a law to aid transgender youth in public schools, and she hopes her victory will inspire others.
Cassidy Lynn Campbell broke down in tears before being crowned on the football field on Friday as fellow students at Marina High School in Huntington Beach cheered her on after she won a popular vote, according to video footage of the event.
"Whether I won or not tonight, I was a winner from the beginning, and I already knew it," Campbell told a news conference after the ceremony, according to KCAL9, a local news channel.
"If this could help one child, or more, or hundreds, or thousands, or millions, then it was more than worth it," said Campbell, wearing the homecoming queen's fur-trimmed cape over her strapless pink and blue dress.
Campbell, who was born biologically male but identifies as female, was not immediately available for comment to Reuters.
"If Marina High School is to make high-profile news during its homecoming week this year," the Los Angeles Times quoted school Principal Paul Morrow as saying, "then we are proud that the message is one of equity and individual respect."
Transgender-rights advocates have previously welcomed similar developments as signs of greater acceptance of a group that often faces prejudice. In 2009, students at the College of William & Mary, a public university in Virginia, elected Jessee Vasold, a transgender student, as homecoming queen.
Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed a law requiring public schools to allow transgender students to choose which restrooms to use and whether to join the girls' or boys' sports teams.
Supporters say it is the first state law to require equal access to sex-segregated school facilities based on the gender with which students identify rather than their biological gender. Opponents complain the law is too vague, and could lead to abuses.
Some school districts, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, already allow students to participate in sports programs and choose school facilities in accordance with their gender identity.
In July, the Arcadia School District in Southern California settled a transgender discrimination lawsuit filed when a middle school student, who was born female but identified as male, was barred from using male restrooms and locker rooms at school.