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Homecoming queen candidate makes a statement just by running

Seeing an opportunity to really be herself, transgender senior Cassidy Campbell is campaigning to win the homecoming crown at Marina High School in Huntington Beach.

September 19, 2013|By Adolfo Flores, Los Angeles Times

When the thought of running for homecoming queen first swept through Cassidy Campbell's mind last year, she pushed the impulse aside. It would just be a joke, she told herself.

Now the high school senior sees it as a chance to make a statement.

"This year," she said, stroking her long black hair at the kitchen table in her home in Huntington Beach, "I'm a girl every day."

PHOTOS: Being a girl every day

Cassidy has revved up a social media campaign in an effort to win the homecoming crown at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, joining a growing but still-thin group of transgender teens across the country who see an opportunity to shake up gender norms by competing in what's long been a tradition-bound, sex-segregated American staple.

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"If I win it would mean that the school recognizes me as the gender I always felt I was," Cassidy said.

Assigned male at birth but knowing she wasn't a boy, the teen walked through the glass entrance of Marina High in August for the first time as Cassidy Lynn Campbell.

As far back as Cassidy can remember she was drawn to dolls and pink dresses.

"I felt like I was already a girl, so I was confused as to why my mom would cut my hair," Cassidy said. "I didn't understand why she would make me wear shorts and shirts when I wanted to wear dresses and skirts."

She briefly identified as transgender in middle school, but the term seemed to confuse her peers and succeeded in turning her into an outcast. So she just told classmates she was gay.

During her freshman year she started watching YouTube videos made by transgender women.

"They were so unique, so different and beautiful," the 16-year-old said. "That's when I started thinking this could be an option for me."

On Halloween of her sophomore year Cassidy dressed up as a girl, figuring it would be the easiest time to express herself. On a few occasions that year and the next, she went to school in a dress or skirt.

But it still felt less than honest.

"I decided I wasn't happy being a drag queen and being a boy," Cassidy said. "I would dread taking off my wig."

Without telling her mother or consulting a doctor, she began taking hormone blockers that she ordered online.

One night, about three months ago, she came clean to her mom.

"I was crying. That's when I told her, 'I'm taking testosterone blockers and I'm going to start estrogen soon with or without your consent,'" she recalled.

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