Johnny Vera, a
6-foot-4 cheerleader whose late mother always told her,
"To really be a lady you have to know how to walk into a
room," certainly worked it Saturday as she was crowned
prom queen of Roosevelt High School in Fresno, Calif.
Vera, who goes by
a male moniker and prefers female pronouns but "isn't
too hung up" if people slip, was students' favorite by a
5-1 margin, the school's principal told the Fresno Bee.
"This person is
amazing. He lights up everybody around him; he always
has a genuine compliment for everyone," career counselor
Lupe Sosa told the Bee.
In her candidate
speech Vera told fellow students, "For me, it's about
more than a crown. It's about saying to people, 'Come out
and be who you want to be....' I am who I am, and I'm
proud of who I am. My spirit will never be down on the
Nor is Vera the
only transgender prom royal in the heavily Latino
agricultural city of 480,000. Cinthia "Tony" Covarrubias,
across town at Fresno High School, last month
campaigned for prom king in male persona after some
initial reluctance from the school district. Though
Covarrubias didn't win, he told AP he hoped to set a
precedent for other transgender teens.
Vera grew up in
Santa Ana, Calif., but moved with her family to Fresno
several years ago after her mother died of complications
"She taught me to
be strong and never be ashamed of myself," Vera told
the Bee. "There were all those statistics about
transgender kids committing suicide. People would look
at me and say I was going to do drugs or be a prostitute.
And I would just tell myself, 'I'm not going to let
anyone but me tell me what I'm going to be.' " (The