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Transgender McFatter senior crowned prom queen

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

They’ve bullied and taunted her, calling her names and writing on her locker.

And now, the seniors at McFatter Technical High School have elected Andrew Viveros their 2011 prom queen.

“They called my name and I was in total shock,’’ said Andrew, a 17-year-old who was born male but has publicly presented herself as female for the last two years.

With her long wavy brown hair, Andrew wore a royal blue dress and got a fresh manicure for the Friday night dance.

Andrew, also known as Andii, plans to someday change her name to Andrea. She wanted to run for prom queen in order to show other transgender teens “it gets better.”

She ran against 14 others.

Andrew said some McFatter teens pleaded with school management not to allow her to run for queen.

“Many students have started a petition to have me removed from the ballot,” Andrew wrote last week in a Facebook message. “They also are outraged and say I am making a mockery of prom, because I am going in an evening gown.”

Last year, school officials suggested Andrew not dress as a female in class and to “tone it down,” she said.

“This year we got a new principal and she’s very supportive of me,” Andrew said, even encouraging her to run for prom queen. “She said “Stay in the running. Don’t back down for anything.’”

McFatter seniors who voted Friday night also chose a prom king: Juan Macias, a 17-year-old gay male senior.

Before the big night, Andrew’s father, Oscar Viveros, bought her a gown, shoes and makeup.

“My parents support me. They always have,” said Andrew, the oldest of four siblings.

“I’ve always loved him unconditionally,” said Oscar Viveros, who still uses male pronouns when talking about Andrew. “I’ve told my other kids, they have to support him. He thinks he’s a girl in a man’s body. In school, he hears this and that, but I’ve made sure in our house he’s free to act and do whatever makes him comfortable.”

Viveros, 46, a supervisor at a private garbage-collection company in Fort Lauderdale, said his co-workers aren’t as tolerant.

“I’ve got guys at work who say, ‘Oh, you didn’t beat him up?’’’ Viveros said. “I love him too much.”

Viveros said he and his wife, Bernadette, 42, view Andrew as a straight female.

“He doesn’t consider himself gay. He likes men. I understand that. He’s just in the wrong body,’’ said Viveros, who recalls a young Andrew wanting to try on Cinderella’s dress at Disney World.

“I’d tell him, ‘You’re a boy,’’’ Viveros said. “He’d try it on anyway. He was happy.”

Life as a transgender teen is a challenge, Andrew says.

Some McFatter students have taunted her, “but they know not to mess with me,” she said.

“I’ve filed bullying reports over and over again with people. I’ve had many incidents. People would call me ‘faggot.’ People would write on my locker, repeatedly.

“The looks you get going out, you have to deal with that. They are going to look at you because you’re different,” Andrew said. “Applying for jobs is hard. If you’re going to apply, you can’t be who you are.”

Andrew now plans to attend Broward College and get a degree in culinary arts management.

Oscar Viveros has advice for other parents with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender children:

“Let them grow to be whatever they want to be, as long as they’re good,” Viveros said. “Let them blossom into whatever they want to be. Support them 100 percent.”

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Andii. Her name is Andii. There's absolutely no reason to keep referring to her throughout the article by a name she does not use and does not prefer. You reported that she goes by the name, "Andii" so please, editors, respect that wish. By calling her by her previous name you attempt to effectively discredit everything she achieved by winning as prom queen; shame on you.

I agree with Sara. Please Steve, she goes by "Andii," please respect that. Thanks.

Sara, Andrew indeed goes by the name Andrew. She plans to change her name to Andrea after she transitions.

Some people call her Andii, but most call her Andrew. That's the name on her Facebook page and profile, and also the name she called herself in her messages and emails to me.

I specifically asked what name she'd like to be called -- it's Andrew.

Steve Rothaus

Sara, AF, I updated the story to reflect that Andrew plans to someday change her name to Andrea after she transitions.

Steve

There were only 128 senior that are graduating from McFatter, not 600. I know because my son is one of them. Also, I am very proud of Andi (know her personally) and proud of my son and his girlfriend who voted for Andi for Prom Queen.
Andi is loved for who she is, her bravery and courage.

Debbie, thanks. I updated the story.

Steve

Im gay. I never had supportive parents. My childhood was a nightmare. We didnt have prom queens and kings in my country, they just selected the best performing student every year which, most of the time, was me. As an adult I had to leave my home and country. Now, in Miami, Im being bullied at work most of the time. My boss and supervisors just look to the other side and smile when they see it. But they cannot fire me because they need me in the company, more than the other 40 employees. Why do I want to be a king or queen if Ive never been happy? When I read this kind of news I just cry, and pray for these kids to grow in a different world as mine. And be happy.

Mostly I like this story and sees it as a positive one, but part of me just wishes that Andrew's dad could grasp that viewing her as a straight female and supporting her 100% would include using her pronouns of choice. Still, Andrew feels supported by her parents and I guess that's what really counts.

Thank you, Steve, for the clarification and for updating the story. While I'm at it, thanks for such positive reporting of a wonderful story!

Wow! What a great story. I am a happily married straight man and feel it necessary to represent my opinion. Andrea is very brave. I know my ignorance and friends ignorance back in my high school days would have bullied her to the fullest. Now, that I am older I realize that "It get's better" for those who have the urge to be different. Above all I applaud her father. I don't know how I would act (just being honest) in his shoes. But, he is a platform to admire. I do have one question... are her parents cuban? because i know how that family could be like...

Mater Academy Charter High School in Hialeah Gardens crowned gay and lesbian students prom king and queen respectively. The gay male student was crowned queen and the lesbian female was crowned king. Surprises me to see how common this apparently is now

I respect her sexuality and can appreciate what she's gone through, but she really didn't deserve the crown. Just because she struggles doesn't mean she's a good person. She has spread rumors about almost everyone, including me. If she wants equality for everyone, she shouldn't have told everyone that me and a guy had sex. It's made my life hell. Plus, only the culinary students have lockers. Her friends wrote on it as a joke.

This is a TRULY HEART WARMING STORY and as a person of faith and in a moment, this exact one, where I myself, know Andi's pain being a gay male from childhood, and this very day I am awaiting escort by the Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, to escort and aid me in getting protection from an attacker who had now stalked me and knows my home address, I know how people not like the LBGT community do not understand or many even offer civility nor tolerance as I, myself have been assailed, taunted, tormented and now finally attacked and although disabled, am still being terrorized by a young man half my age for no other reason then being "different." "Different" then what? Andi, I applaud you and I TRULY believe I came across this as I just awoke still fretting about what will occur later today and if I have the strength and nerve to stand up for myself and now I have been taught by your coverage far outweighing my mine that I can. Thank you for being you, a beautiful, soulful and courageous young lady, which is exactly who you are, a true lady, which is defined as a woman of sophisticated, refinement and having class she hold her head up high in public and is proud knowing she does the right thing and offers sympathy to those less intelligent or otherwise unfortunate to be aware that WE ALL COUNT, WE ALL MATTER, WE ALL HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS TO LIVE, LOVE AND PROSPER...Congratulations and you are a vision in blue...

Mcfatter doesn't have lockers so it'd be hard for people to write names on it!

I attend this high school and am part of the senior high school class graduating this year and it's incredible to me how misconstrued all this was. As soon as somebody from the LGBT community runs and there is any negativity about it, everybody points to bullying and that is bullying in itself. For the few people who were against Andrew for running or winning cause he was gay, I neither know them or speak for them. I speak for the majority of people I knew who didnt want Andrew to run because the people voting for him wouldnt "hear his story and do what's right" but they would vote for him as a joke, and I can account for this personally. And also personally knowing the in's and out's of our senior class, Andrew is not at all the nicest individual and somebody who barely reaches out to anybody not of his own liking or crew. I didnt support Andrew not because he was transgendered but because there were other candidates on that ballot way more deserving in the beliefs of the people who actually cared about the voting and not voting just for a joke.

And then what about Juan Macias? He gets no recognition either? This article purely has to to discuss the struggles of one person and not the other? Now HE is somebody worth talking about with such intense praise.

This is indeed something to be proud of, but I can't get past the fact that this article describes him/her as "They’ve bullied and taunted her". I can recall many incidents throughout high school of "ANDII" being the one bullying and taunting others. Then this article says "I’ve filed bullying reports over and over again with people" I can also recall many bullying reports being filled from one of his victims. The real Andii only cares about himself, seeks attention and will through anyone under the bus just to get that attention. This "prom queen" thing was just his way of getting that attention, so he can go around flaunting how she is a superior human being. He once talked about a girl so bad, spreading mean rumors so bad that she had to transfer out of our school. He even cold heatedly made fun of his best friend via a social networking site, and told everyone her secret, at the time, about her mother being a victim of domestic violence. Something that she didn't want to share with others, but told her friend at the time "Andii", who then went around and told others. Their is so much more that is it makes me furious that a person like Andii is being praise for something he does deserve, not as transgender but as a human being in general. Their is not one person he has not talking about, I believe Andii would have recieved way more support then he did when running for prom queen if he did not bad mouth at one time many kids of are student body. In the end he one and maybe one who is more deserving will come after him and win.

This article is exceptionally biased.
I believe that I, myself, and many other people would've been fine with Andrew running and winning if he was a better person. Juan Macias is gay, no one batted an eyelash at him winning because he is a great person. There were girls there who deserved that title, not Andrew.

He is manipulative, and will say something nice to you now, and talk badly about you later. I actually have been subjected to this a couple of times. Underneath all his make- up, he is ugly inside. And people will read this story and hear about his struggles but will not know about all the struggles he has put others through. He has put others down, and he treats no one with respect. I have seen him personally taunt and ridicule his own friend.

And may I just say, no one thought he was making a mockery of prom because of his dress. It was because he was running for queen, being a definite male. All I'm saying is you don't dress up a cat and put her in a dog show.

I'm a straight androgynous male,and at my age,62,I am constantly assaulted when I go in public

I have a huge issue with people coming on here & bashing under "Anonymous". You are bashing her for doing the same thing you are doing by coming here to talk trash. I say congrats to both the king & the queen.

Amy, I agree. Please do not trash anyone personally, especially if you post anonymously.

Steve Rothaus

"a 17-year-old who was born male but has publicly presented herself as female for the last two years."

"Born male" is a judgment. A more correct and less judgmental phraseology would have been something like "assigned a male gender at birth."

"Born male" involves a denial of the scientific evidence that has been ammassing since 1995 that transgender people are developmenally different based on genetic and embryological factors - so that we are born different and are not properly assigned that birth sex. So "born male" or "born a man" are inaccurate.

I am sure that there was no biased intent on the part of the writer - it's just that there ia s lot of misinformation out there, and this was such a supportive story I hate to see it marred by the probably unintentional judgment as to what Andii really was when she was born.

(The writer is the state director of the New York Transgender Rights Organization, and found my way to this article from the Joe.My.God. blog.)

Joann, thanks for your feedback.

Steve

It's interesting to read some of the responses from Andrew's classmates. She sounds like she comes from a very normal school with all the silly rumors and jealousy that go along with it. Andrew may or may not be the "nicest" person right now and certainly if she was bullying anyone this should be addressed. However, Andii being crowned prom queen will do so much good for so many young LGBT's, her classmates need to look at the big picture.

The most accurate way to describe these variations is to recognize that sex and gender are not the same thing, even though people use them as if they were.

Male bodies and female bodies exist. That's not a judgment, it's a biological reality.

"Sex" refers to the physical form of the body. "Male" and "female" describe sex, not gender. "Gender" refers to personal identity and psychology, and social role. "Woman", "man", "boy", and "girl" describe a person's gender.

Yes, I know about trans people (I'm one), intersex, and the variations in brains, hormones, body parts, etc.

I myself being a Trans woman think this is wonderful.. Although she may be mean and not a very nice person she is still paving a way for the Trans men and women behind her. If she has done these bad things as her classmates say she did then she will answer for them when her time comes to answer for them. Right now you have to look at what she has done to improve lives and tell other GLBT people that "IT DOES GET BETTER"

Those parents are really cool, it seems.

i agree with anitamarie.

Everyone in high school is bullied and bullies. It's a matter of context. Regardless, Andii wanted something and did what she needed to do to get it. She had drive. Something many people lack. She's also 17 so mistakes are a given. As people grow older, they mature and learn from their mistakes.

Congratulations Andii! Thank you for being you, no matter what.

What about the feelings of the prom king & queen candidates that lost? They must have been poor candidates to loose. Does this choice of king & queen reflect pride at this school? I wonder if there will be enough students sign up to have there first class reunion. The times are a changing! I have nothing against the winners; I just do not think they represent what the title of prom king & queen should be.

AP/GLAAD Reference:
Always use a transgender person's chosen name. Often transgender people cannot afford a legal name change or are not yet old enough to change their name legally. They should be afforded the same respect for their chosen name as anyone else who lives by a name other than their birth name (e.g., celebrities).

Whenever possible, ask transgender people which pronoun they would like you to use. A person who identifies as a certain gender, whether or not that person has taken hormones or had some form of surgery, should be referred to using the pronouns appropriate for that gender.

If it is not possible to ask a transgender person which pronoun he or she prefers, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person's appearance and gender expression. For example, if a person wears a dress and uses the name Susan, feminine pronouns are appropriate.

It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person's chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person's gender identity.

The Associated Press Stylebook provides guidelines for journalists reporting on transgender people and issues. According to the AP Stylebook, reporters should "use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly" (see AP, New York Times & Washington Post Style).

When describing transgender people, please use the correct term or terms to describe their gender identity. For example, a person who is born male and transitions to become female is a transgender woman, whereas a person who is born female and transitions to become male is a transgender man.

Avoid pronoun confusion when examining the stories and backgrounds of transgender people prior to their transition. It is usually best to report on transgender people's stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.

this is a great story nd it shows that the gay nd so on community is being recognised yet looking at some of these comments made by her classmates made me think if she did deserve being centre of attention the young gay boy who was crowned aswell had not even half the recognisition she had i totaly soppourt these communities but these kids making allegations are simply telling the public who ANDII truly is congrats on your crowning young lady but the head of the school now must look into complaints mde

I find it interesting that Andrew is not liked by several supposed fellow students, yet it was the student body that selected her to win the title. From the way the article was written, it was a rather large margin for winning too? Obviously she's liked enough to have won.

Writing style, content, and poinsof discussion in the "anonymous" posts make me believe it is a single person with a single issue here.

I'm so proud of these kids. I honestly can't imagine a home that is so supportive and a school that would, likewise, be.

The people that voted for him did not vote for him cause they obviously must've liked him. He doesn't even reach out and speak to the majority of people in our class and has only spread constant crap about people in our class. No offense to all your outsiders out there who say that we're just being petty and immature but this has NOTHING to do with him being transgendered. It has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that there were other people who TRULY deserved the title and that this election wasn't taken seriously at all, which is immature in itself. He is not a martyr and not a saint, he is an individual just like the rest of the candidates. In my opinion however, he didnt deserve the title because there were others who deserved it more because they were people who could reach out and be friends with everybody in our class, but all of this will always be subjective. So if you can, please stop pointing fingers at us "young people," because you dont know the full story whatsoever.

Way to go DREW!

@ McFatter 2011 Graduate

......It's high school prom, not a presidential election. Sorry you feel so hurt over it, but there are more important issues to be concerned about.

What a disgrace!

Bunch of gooberheads. doesnt matter if HE change HIS name, or cut parts off or add them on. HE nor any of you can change HIMSELF into a woman no more than Michael Jackson could become white. He was still a black man just as Andrew IS a MAN

Disgusting!!! What a joke...

Clearly, she was admired enough to have won the title. I doubt enough people "jokingly" voted for her in order to create this situation.

There will always be someone -in another persons opinion- who deserved to win more than the others.

I love this story! I do wish for a bit of explanation as to how the class went from teasing her to voting her as prom queen. Is it because the number of supporters out weigh the non-supporters or did they have a change of heart?

First of all, YOU GO GIRL! Now, I am a 52 yr old, straight male with 3 sons of my own. A number of my cousins, several members of my wifes family are gay. Many of my friends are gay or transgender-WHO GIVES A DAMN- When are people going to accept that people are the same no matter who they sleep with or what sex they consider themselves, they are still the same people. I, over the yrs, have been hit on by gays, I consider it a compliment. Gay or transgender does not mean evil or freak, let them live their lives and you live yours. For you ppl that object on religious grounds remember-Judge not- it's not your job to judge others. I can understand the hate they get, I am Pagan myself and lost my teaching job for that reason. I have been kept out of teaching now for almost 6 years for that same reason. Pagan does not mean incompetant. Leave all people that are different alone, our differences are what make our country great. Gods bless you Andii, keep your head up and ignore the haters. Follow your heart, it won't lead you wrong.

BTW I have read all the males here, I am talking about the gender issue only. If Andii is a bully and manipulative that is a different matter. I do not know her and so do not know enough to make a call on that. I will say that the gender issue aside, bullying normally ends up getting turned around and slapping the bully 3 times as hard. As a teacher I spent a lot of times teaching my students how to stand up to bullys without it getting physical, there are ways to do it and they are quite simple. I was just talking about the gender issue. Grats on the Prom Queen vote, you are on your own with any bullying issue.

I am currently a senior at McFatter High School. I was at the prom. I am and always have been pro gay and transgender. I did not vote for Andii because she is one of the most annoying people at McFatter. She acts like a stereotypical black female and its annoying. When having her in my class she would get offended if anyone would say black. For example,

Student: "Yeah I want to get a black Honda."
Andii: "Why's it gotta be black?"

It became really annoying after hearing it everyday. I didn't vote for her and in my opinion I think people voted for her because it would be funny and not because she deserved it. I'm sorry if you are offended by this but these are feeling based on personal experiences with Andii.

@ M. Perry

If so many people seem to have so many opinions about something that concerns us personally and is getting publicized out there with some saying that we should recognize what great strides this will make for the LGBT community without knowing the real situation, then I'm allowed to say something. The event of prom was OUR prom and if we disagree with what happend at it we get shot down. Everybody is making this into such an attention spiel and people who oppose it aren't allowed to state their opinions? Great going for that whole equal speech thing.

ppl stop being so picky about the article and just enjoy the story..

I have to laugh at all the comments about how mean Andii is to others and how she talks about people behind their backs and doesn't reach out to people outside her circle -- please tell me how this behavior is any different from prom queens of the past! It's never been anything but a popularity contest anyway, and by "popular" we certainly don't mean "nice to other people"! The bottom line is that this is a step forward in reducing transgender-phobia and increasing acceptance. And that is a good thing.

Andii, you're a beautiful and lucky young lady to have such supportive parents!!!! Bless you and your family and may you succeed in all your endeavors!!!!

Who cares if she was a horrible person. She wanted to be a symbol so now that she is, that's all that matters. Support it or be judged for crimes against humanity when civil trials the likes of which you people can't even conceive start occurring over the next ten to fifteen years...

Geez just goes to show no good deed goes unpunished. Steve presented us a great and empowering story and some freak out about the name. I'm positive he was not trying to be disrespectful in anyway.

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