Trans teenager Charlie Baum never imagined it would be possible for her to be crowned homecoming queen at her Georgia school.
17-year-old Baum told PinkNews it was “so validating” to win the title at Forsyth Central High School in Forsyth County—just north of Atlanta—on Saturday (January 26).
The teenager, who said she has experienced “death threats and plenty of public humiliation” at the school, had her whole perspective turned upside down after her friends nominated her for queen.
“I went from feeling ready to get out of high school so that I could be normal and just feel like a normal girl—not so much of an oddity or outcast—to feeling like there was a majority of students who support me,” Baum said.
“Winning a queen title was never something that seemed feasible to me, so it’s a very good feeling to know that I was wrong. This let me know that I do have a chance at normalcy and royalty.”
When the announcement was made, Baum said her family exploded with happiness and “so much screaming. They were in the bleachers and they just ran down and all started hugging me—and then there was even more screaming.
“My mum was behind me crying with my dad, and my grandma was also in the bleachers, full-on funeral sobbing with joy. It was a happy moment for all of us.”
Trans homecoming queen grew up scared in Forsyth County
Baum said that growing up in Forsyth County, where thousands of white supremacists including Ku Klux Klan members marched against cultural acceptance of gay and black people in the late 1980s, was “scary.”
She knew she was a girl in elementary school, and was comfortable with herself until she realised her “very intense love for Hannah Montana and literally ANYTHING pink was frowned upon.”
Baum recalled “mostly just being sad” throughout middle school and was “scared of ridicule, scared of harassment and scared of myself” until high school, when she started wearing makeup and dressing in drag.
She said she was finally “able to find the confidence to be openly loud and proudly gay,” but this prompted backlash from some intolerant students.
“This year, in particular, I spent the first semester not out as trans but instead going to school regularly with crazy dramatic makeup,” she said. “This angered plenty of people, some to the point of harassment.”
As well as receiving death threats, the teenager was also bullied in front of other students.
Baum remembered how “one time, in a group chat of 600+ people, I was bluntly asked: ‘Do you have a dick or a vagina?’
“Later in the year that same kid summed up his feelings for me in one word: ‘@Charlie Baum, faggot.’”
Trans homecoming queen persisted despite intolerance—and won
Nonetheless, Baum has remained true to herself, even starting an Instagramaccount in June last year to showcase her drag skills and pro-LGBT+ views. After accruing thousands of followers, she came out as trans in a post in December.
Her friends, who already knew she was trans, were eager to support her.
“My friends Midori and Nicole kind of told me they were nominating me and they started telling people to vote for me to be nominated for court,” Charlie said.
“They had seen me have a rough year with a lot of students and they were also aware that for a trans girl to be nominated and possibly win in this county is not just surprising but also historic.”
“Once I was eligible, I was hellbent on taking the crown, not just cause I like looking pretty, but also for the LGBT community,” she added.
Baum’s family was initially worried that she had been nominated for homecoming queen as a joke—”like some real Carrie White stuff,” she said referencing the horror novel and movie Carrie—but either way, she was determined to compete.
“Even if it had been a prank, I still get to stand there in a pretty dress? I win just by being there!” she explained.
The trans teenager said she wanted her homecoming queen victory to convince other trans people to dream big.
“I hope that it helped to normalise and humanise trans people,” said Baum.
“I want trans individuals’ stories to be heard, and visibility is everything. I want to inspire other trans youth to know that you can do it.
“Break boundaries! Make history! Rock that sash!”