(won’t let me embed – don’t know why!)
The local ABC news station shared a typical local news story last night about the crowning of the Marina High School homecoming queen in Huntington Beach, California. What is sending it around Facebook is that the winner was Cassidy Lynn Campbell, the school’s first transgender teen nominated to the court. Up until this year, she lived life as Lance Campbell.
The video is sweet, partly because it is so typical — the cheerleaders, the football game, the queen bursting into tears upon being named. What also stood out to me is the ease with which the reporter seemed to cover the story and the “yeah, it’s cool” attitude of the students they interviewed (self-congratulatory though they may have been).
And as a parent who watches a kid constantly navigate how much of himself to reveal, when, and to whom, I identify with how moved and proud her mother is (as well as relieved to see her daughter embraced by her peers rather than hurt by ridicule or intimidation).
Which is not to say, of course, that Cassidy hasn’t experienced those things — in this news video she talks about being harassed in the hallways and cyberbullied. We think of California as the bastion of liberalness, but Huntington Beach is 45+% Republican, with Republican representation in the California legislature, US Senate, and US House. In this somewhat conservative town, Cassidy is both bullied and admired, shunned and voted homecoming queen.
We tend to think of progress as a straight line (or the proverbial arc that bends toward justice). Even expressions like “two steps forward, one step back” imply a linear progression toward enlightenment. In real life it’s messier, and less predictable. Sometime it’s everything all at once.