Salt Lake City, Utah (April 29, 2015)– Students at a Salt Lake high school are showing their commitment to gender equality after crowning a transgender girl prom queen.
Maka Brown, 18, says it wasn’t just a big moment for her, but also for her peers who voted for her.
The title was a first for the Salt Lake School for Performing Arts, and Maka could be the first transgender prom queen in the entire state.
“It was like, I can’t believe this is happening to me right now,” Maka explained. “It was just really validating for me.”
The night was important to Maka’s mom Toni too.
“I was really proud of this school that they were able to see Maka for who she is,” said Toni.
Although Maka says getting to this point was not easy.
“I didn’t realize I was trans until I was 16, about two years ago.”
She says when she hit puberty she felt very torn inside.
“I was turning into a guy and I didn’t like it. All these awful changes were happening that I didn’t identify with or didn’t want to happen to me. It just felt so foreign.”
Therapy helped Toni accept her child is transgender–a word she’d never even heard of. Knowing many transgender kids commit suicide because they are rejected, Toni says things became clear.
“When I finally learned and accepted, she blossomed,” Toni said.
Maka, who juggles, does trapeze and the German wheel, dreams of being a professional performer. But for now, she feels happy right where she is at.
She tells other teens, “Strive to be the most authentic person you can because authenticity is tantamount to happiness.”
The principal at the Salt Lake Performing Arts Academy says she is proud of Maka and of all her students.