North Carolina high school crowns trans girl homecoming queen so not everything’s terrible

From the state that brought you the transphobic law restricting transgender individuals from using public bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity comes some surprisingly good news: North Carolina’s Overhills High School crowned a transgender woman homecoming queen. So, sure, the state’s politicians might be backwards and small-minded, but at the very least its young people are doing good.

Selena Milian, 18, told TransCafe she’s felt “nothing but love and support” from her peers, but naturally, throughout the past four years, Milian has braved discrimination and had to fight for herself and her rights. “When I first came out as a freshman, I was not allowed to wear dresses,” she told the outlet. “I’ve had to stand up for myself every day and correct people in every part of my school.”

Milian, reportedly the first transgender homecoming queen in her state, described herself as a “social butterfly” to TransCafe, but explained that transitioning was not easy at first. “I was really depressed and had to go to therapy, but transitioning gave me more confidence and then I became more involved in school activities, like plays and the modeling troupe I was in.”

Still, it’s hardly been smooth sailing for Milian since transitioning. Earlier this year, she had to quit her job after co-workers routinely outed her “in front of customers” and used the wrong name and pronouns. “I couldn’t deal with the negativity anymore,” Milian said. “This is a military-based town so it’s not always the most welcoming for trans people, but that hasn’t stopped me from being myself.”

Milian’s victory comes as the Supreme Court is slated to hear its first ever case on transgender bathroom rights. Contrary to the narrative propagated by many conservatives that transgender individuals make public restrooms less safe for cisgender women and children, the group whose safety is most threatened by discriminatory bathroom policies is transgender people themselves. Notably, there are more recorded cases of sexual misconduct in bathrooms among Republican politicians than transgender Americans.

Milian’s hometown of Spring Lake is, in fact, a military base, and the right of transgender Americans to serve openly has long been contentious. As of July this year, transgender soldiers will finally be allowed to serve openly, but the Obama administration was predictably met with no shortage of pushback from conservatives in Congress.

While the fight for transgender Americans’ political rights continues to rage on, at the very least, Milian’s inspiring coronation signals a powerful cultural victory for social rights. As Milian told TransCafe, “Being crowned homecoming queen was just the first step. I want to help my community and continue to make a difference.”