A Texas High School Takes A Major Step In Trans Student Acceptance

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For many LGBT students, high school years are a time of figuring out who they are as individuals and coming to terms with their orientation and/or identity — among so many other parts that growing up involves. For a bright, young student at Stephen F. Austin High School in Sugar Land, Texas, coming out as transgender was only the beginning of his journey. With the support of his classmates, Mel Gonzales, a female-to-male trans student, ran for homecoming king, won, and was crowned at his school’s homecoming football game.

Project Q Houston shared an interview with Mel on their site:

    What’s your reaction to being crowned Homecoming King?

    I was crowned at the homecoming football game on Friday, September 12. As the court and I lined up on the field, I tried to disconnect myself from the idea that I would probably win, just in case I didn’t. That’s probably why I was actually stunned when they announced my name. Apparently, the crowd was incredibly loud, but I didn’t realize that at the moment. I was stuck in my own little world, with my hand covering my face and my arm around my mom. Yes, I was very much elated, but I personally have some sort of defense mechanism where I handle any sort of emotional shock very calmly. Rather than, “Oh my God I can’t believe it!” I was more like, “Wow… this is pretty cool. Just wow.”

    Houston is a conservative place. Sugar Land, where your high school is located, even more so. Were you surprised at being crowned?

    As I was born in Houston and later moved to Sugar Land, I never considered my home to be “conservative.” Fort Bend is one of the most culturally diverse districts in America, so in my experience, the diverse population also has varied political ideologies. Because of this, Stephen F. Austin High School definitely emphasizes respect and tolerance and actually welcomes the unique. If I didn’t think that the student body was accepting enough to vote me into homecoming court, I would not have campaigned.

    What does this mean for transgender students? Or other high school students who might be struggling with gender issues or questioning whether they are LGBT?

    The continually positive reception to transgendered people as homecoming royalty – congrats, Scarlett Lenh! – proves that the country is moving towards acceptance for not just those who are not heterosexual, but those who also identify outside of the gender binary. This win proves that through hard work and standing firm for what you deserve, you have the potential in you to be so much happier and successful beyond your imagination. Many of our admirable role models have made it to the top from humble beginnings. Why can’t it be you? Breathe, take baby steps, and pull your shoulders back. Confidence intimidates and strikes awe, and it will get you to places you didn’t think you could go. If any LGBTQ individuals ever need help, I can be easily contacted on Facebook.

You can check out the complete interview here.

While there exists so much left in the fight for equality, stories like Mel’s and the senior class of Stephen F. Austin High School, paint a picture of the incredible progress that is to come in the near future. A future we all deserve to see and live in one day.

Follow Omar on Twitter at @AraizaTX.

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About Author

Omar Araiza

Staff writer Omar Araiza covers immigration, Latino voters, the U.S.-Mexico border, and LGBT issues. He is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Omar tweets from @AraizaTX.

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