Powerful story about the importance of support for LGBTQ youth in the home, the school and in the community. Kudos to Steve Rothaus for putting together such an inspirational piece. Be sure to check out Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida Blog for more.
"They’ve bullied and taunted her, calling her names and writing on her locker.
And now, the seniors at McFatter Technical High School have elected Andrew Viveros their 2011 prom queen.
“They called my name and I was in total shock,’’ said Andrew, a 17-year-old who was born male but has publicly presented herself as female for the last two years.
With her long wavy brown hair, Andrew wore a royal blue dress and got a fresh manicure for the Friday night dance.
Andrew, also known as Andii, plans to someday change her name to Andrea. She wanted to run for prom queen in order to show other transgender teens “it gets better.”
She ran against 14 others.
Andrew said some McFatter teens pleaded with school management not to allow her to run for queen.
“Many students have started a petition to have me removed from the ballot,” Andrew wrote last week in a Facebook message. “They also are outraged and say I am making a mockery of prom, because I am going in an evening gown.”
Last year, school officials suggested Andrew not dress as a female in class and to “tone it down,” she said.
“This year we got a new principal and she’s very supportive of me,” Andrew said, even encouraging her to run for prom queen. “She said “Stay in the running. Don’t back down for anything.’”
McFatter seniors who voted Friday night also chose a prom king: Juan Macias, a 17-year-old gay male senior.
Before the big night, Andrew’s father, Oscar Viveros, bought her a gown, shoes and makeup.
“My parents support me. They always have,” said Andrew, the oldest of four siblings.
“I’ve always loved him unconditionally,” said Oscar Viveros, who still uses male pronouns when talking about Andrew. “I’ve told my other kids, they have to support him. He thinks he’s a girl in a man’s body. In school, he hears this and that, but I’ve made sure in our house he’s free to act and do whatever makes him comfortable.”
Viveros, 46, a supervisor at a private garbage-collection company in Fort Lauderdale, said his co-workers aren’t as tolerant.
“I’ve got guys at work who say, ‘Oh, you didn’t beat him up?’’’ Viveros said. “I love him too much.”
Viveros said he and his wife, Bernadette, 42, view Andrew as a straight female.
“He doesn’t consider himself gay. He likes men. I understand that. He’s just in the wrong body,’’ said Viveros, who recalls a young Andrew wanting to try on Cinderella’s dress at Disney World.
“I’d tell him, ‘You’re a boy,’’’ Viveros said. “He’d try it on anyway. He was happy.”
Life as a transgender teen is a challenge, Andrew says.
Some McFatter students have taunted her, “but they know not to mess with me,” she said.
“I’ve filed bullying reports over and over again with people. I’ve had many incidents. People would call me ‘faggot.’ People would write on my locker, repeatedly.
“The looks you get going out, you have to deal with that. They are going to look at you because you’re different,” Andrew said. “Applying for jobs is hard. If you’re going to apply, you can’t be who you are.”
Andrew now plans to attend Broward College and get a degree in culinary arts management.
Oscar Viveros has advice for other parents with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children:
“Let them grow to be whatever they want to be, as long as they’re good,” Viveros said. “Let them blossom into whatever they want to be. Support them 100 percent.”