How I Became the World's First Transgender Prom Queen - A Personal Essay
On May 27th 2010, I was crowned Prom Queen. Normally, this wouldn’t matter to anyone who didn’t live in my town, but that night (to my knowledge) was the first time in history that a transgender girl had been chosen. Below is the essay I wrote to get into college. It was written in a time before I ever had surgery, before Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox brought awareness to the topic of transgender people, way before CoreyRae.com was even a thought; and it tells the story of how I became Prom Queen. It is important to note that back when I wrote this “transgender” was not a recognized word, and therefore I used “trans-gender” to get rid of the red underline. Today, “trans-gender” is incorrect and “transgender” isn’t. A small but important example of our society's progress. To commemorate the crowns 7th anniversary, I have chosen to share this personal essay. Enjoy… (and read till the end for some special thank you’s and pictures)
“To be a prom queen, one must be pretty, popular, well-liked, and most importantly female; but unlike most other prom queens, I was born male. From October 2009 to May 2010, I was able to transition in front of my whole school from male to female and win the most coveted title known to any high school girl.
Throughout my entire life, my family and I have known that something about me was special. At age two, I asked my mom for a Cinderella dress. Since the age of three, I have dressed up in a girl’s costume for Halloween. In kindergarten my teacher told me that I was no longer allowed to play dress up because I was putting on dresses and not 'boys’ clothes. This disturbed me, and I will never forget that day. I have never been embarrassed to hold a Barbie, wear a dress, or have all female friends. When I was six, I remember developing my first crush: he was my neighbor in California. For a time I thought I might be gay, but inside I knew that wasn’t the way to describe me.
On career day in 8th grade, a parent brought in magazines to show us her company’s advertisements. By chance, the cover story of People Magazine was about a girl who was becoming a boy. I read the article repeatedly, and it suddenly hit me that the term ‘trans-gender’ described me. I showed my mom the article and asked questions such as ‘Is she really a lesbian?’ to test the waters. After thinking I would have her support, I came downstairs one night and said, ‘Mommy I want to be a girl.’ My mom turned to me and said, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ I sat on her lap and cried. I told her I was sorry and she said, ‘Don’t be.’ I knew I would be supported and that everything would be okay.
I wanted to start high school as a girl, but my mom was scared for me. She did not want me to be bullied. By October 2009, only a few friends, my mom, and my stepfather knew about my being trans-gender. During the week leading up to the Halloween dance, something inside of me changed, and I decided to dress more flamboyantly. At Halloween I dressed up as Adam, and my friends were Eve. I wrote a risque costume, and people seemed to accept it. With my mom’s assistance, I slowly began my transition, wearing her jeans, shirts, accessories, and nail polish. Eventually, I started to wear mascara, and by that point everyone could tell that I was going to become a woman. After a couple of months of dressing more effeminately, I began seeing a trans-therapist and an endocrinologist. My endocrinologist gave me a prescription for Provera; a drug that lowers the testosterone level and prepares the body for estrogen. I could not have been more thrilled to be making such a huge step in my transition.
By May, my hair was almost shoulder length, and I passed as a girl in almost all situations. For fun, I decided that I would attempt to fulfill my dream of being prom queen. I made my Facebook named Corey Prom Queen Wagner, and soon enough I was nominated. At prom, I was nervous, but I had an underlying feeling that my dream would come true. And then my world changed forever. Our class president said “And our junior prom queen is… Corey Wagner!” The whole room went wild screaming and applauding for me. I had never felt more loved by my peers in my entire life. The night was perfect: I couldn't have been more proud of myself and my high school for being so accepting and open-minded.
The transitioning process has made me a more understanding and stronger person. I am able to help other people who have had similar problems with gender identity and sexuality. By offering insight and compassion to anyone who has issues with personal identity, I will be able to contribute to Hofstra and thereby enrich the community as a whole.”
That night was a fairytale come true for me. The room erupted with acceptance, but little did we all know how monumental it was. My class made history that night, and I wouldn’t be the proud trans-woman that I am today without them. I’ll never forget my mom running up to me in the parking lot after prom. She was crying hysterically, hugging and kissing me so openly that it made some of my classmates cry as well. Besides a few, my transition was well-received by the school's general population. It was their support that helped me through the end of high school and to even present day. I want to give a special shout out to a few friends who helped me feel more comfortable.
Keren, my best friend from the second grade is first. She gave me the dress she was going to wear a week away from prom because her mom told her it looked better on me. Although she did run against me, she could not have been more proud to stand by my side on that stage and cheer for me. Thank you.
To Russell Fagan, you were the only Prom King candidate that said they would have danced with me if I won, and that alone made the world of a difference. Thank you.
J Winkelried, as the song “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift played during my and the prom kings “victory lap” (the lame excuse the school used for the nominees who would be uncomfortable dancing with me if I won) you felt how awkward the situation was and grabbed me, pulled me to the center of the dance floor, and danced with me. It was then, at the height of the chorus that the entire grade surrounded us and danced along. Thank you.
To my friends who have stayed with me all these years after that night in high school, Keren Brender, Lucie Lazio, Ali Moreale, Anna Sista, and J Winkelried … thank you. Your endless and unconditional love and support has lifted me up in my darkest of times, and I would not be who I am without you all.
Thank you for reading.
Written by Corey Rae