A transgender teen was elected homecoming queen over the weekend at a Kansas City-area high school.
Landon Patterson, a 17-year-old senior at Oak Park High School, says she is happy to be receiving so much positive attention after posting a video on social media in May, announcing that she is actually a girl, and not a boy.
"The attention is kind of overwhelming, kind of not," Landon told The Kansas City Star. "I feel like I'm handling it pretty well. I'm just honored that I'm put in this spotlight and that I'm representing my school and representing the trans community."
Landon is her school’s first transgender homecoming queen. The move is especially significant considering her home state of Missouri, which was one of thirteen states to still ban same-sex marriage in 2013.
"I think what is culturally significant is that it's in Missouri rather than in New York City or San Francisco or someplace like that," David Alonzo, chairman of the Kansas City chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, told the Associated Press. "The fact that it is being positively received in the news, it could be considered a cultural thing."
Mr. Alonzo applauds Oak Park’s student body for supporting Landon.
The increasing visibility of transgender people may present an even deeper challenge to visible societal norms than sexual orientation did a decade ago. Fears of bullying and violence are as strong as ever, as The Christian Science Monitor's Harry Bruinius reported in May.
"I was so nervous," Landon told AP of the decision to come out as transgender on social media. "But I thought, 'I'm doing it.' After that I decided to wear a dress. So I came to school with my hair in and in a black dress. I was tired of hiding who I was and wearing a dress was what would make me feel like myself."
After she came out, Landon was allowed to wear the girls’ cheer uniform after almost three years as a member of Oak Park’s co-ed cheerleading squad.
"It was just so exciting," Landon said. "And I felt so pretty. And I finally felt complete."
This report includes material from the Associated Press.