A transgender University of Northern Iowa student has won the school’s homecoming queen crown following a vote by fellow students.
Steven Sanchez, 21, is UNI’s first ever transgender homecoming queen or king. Campus Activities Board officials announced his victory during a homecoming pep rally in Lang Hall Friday night while he and the rest of the homecoming queen court waited nervously on stage — an experience Sanchez described as being “unbelievable.”
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier captured the moment homecoming officials awarded Sanchez the crown:
Photo: The moment UNI crowned it's first transgender homecoming queen in school history – http://t.co/vBYi0Vhr8R cc @northerniowa @glaad
— wcfcourier (@wcfcourier) October 12, 2013
The announcement comes as exciting news for Iowa’s LGBT community. One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing released the following statement:
One Iowa applauds the crowning of Steven Sanchez as the University of Northern Iowa’s first ever transgender homecoming queen. We commend Steven for being brave enough to be out and proud, and for taking this step forward in Iowa history. Steven helps give a voice and helps put a face to the transgender community in Iowa, making a difference as a person who changes hearts and minds.
We couldn’t be prouder of the students and faculty at UNI who have supported Steven and who voted to crown Steven as UNI’s homecoming queen tonight. This is truly a magnificent moment for the entire transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual community of Iowa and across the nation. We could not be happier with this news, and once again I am proud to call myself an Iowan.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier noted that the UNI Campus Activities Board reinstated homecoming court last year after a decades-long hiatus, though Sanchez’s victory is nonetheless a proud moment for the school, as others have taken to Twitter to point out:
This is as much a win for UNI as for Steven. // Transgender student wins UNI homecoming queen crown http://t.co/6HLMHG4YVC
— Norah Carroll (@norahcarroll) October 12, 2013
If you don't know already – one of our neighbors at UNI is doing amazing things this homecoming. Check it out!… http://t.co/GmunmqOLPv
— Wartburg Alliance (@WartburgGSA) October 11, 2013
[H/T: WCF Courier, Des Moines Register]