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California Trans Teen's Inspirational Journey from Near Dropout to Prom Queen

California Trans Teen's Inspirational Journey from Near Dropout to Prom Queen


Like many trans youth rejected in school, at one time prom queen Angie Esteban found herself skipping class and getting into fights.

Just a few years ago, Angie Esteban could never have imagined that one day she would wear Salinas High School's prom queen crown.

The 18-year-old senior, who received the honor last month, shared in a recent interview with The Californian how she overcame bullying and related disengagement with her schoolwork to stand proudly as a young trans woman today.

"I kind of already knew who I was and who I wanted to be at a young age," Esteban reflected, sharing that she started using her preferred name, "Angie," as a freshman. But despite her initial confidence in who she was, Esteban tells an insightful story about becoming someone else through facing her peers' and family's rejection, and eventually emerging stronger on the other side.

"A lot of people would tease me ... and it made me really mean," she recounts of her middle school years. "I used to fight a lot and get suspended from school. I would get bullied, but I would bully back. If you started with me, I would finish it. I know how to defend myself."

By her junior year, Esteban was placed in an alternative education program at Mount Toro High School because of her behavior, which included not showing up to school and failing to pass in school work. "I was headed toward a bad route," Eseteban tells The Californian now, saying she felt "lost" and only lived "in the moment." "When I finally realized it, I knew I had to get on it."

Esteban was among the numerous trans youth who, in response to feeling rejected or misunderstood at school, are two times more likely than cisgender (nontrans) to not complete high school. But ultimately finding support from her first trans friend -- another girl she met at Mount Toro -- and a loving teacher, Esteban says she overcame the odds.

"I ended up squashing the beefs that I had with people as I started changing my mindset to positive," she reflected. "I didn't like the way they were staring at me at lunchtime so I went up to them and told them, 'I don't have a problem with you.' ... They were relieved I felt that way."

Esteban returned this year to Salinas High determined to graduate on-time, despite being behind in her class credits. "This school year it's been work, work, work," she told The Californian. "But I'm making up my attendance. I stay at school until 5 p.m."

And on April 18, the girl who others once rejected or feared was named "prom queen" by her peers.

Now, though Esteban admits that she still faces occasional taunts from classmates, and that her relationship with her mother and siblings is still evolving, she says she's much closer to becoming the person she wants to be. An aspiring fashion model and businesswoman, she's now on track to stand before her peers next month and be honored one more time: crowned with a mortar board cap and holding a diploma.

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Mitch Kellaway