CEDAR FALLS | A transgender student has won the homecoming queen's crown at the University of Northern Iowa.

Steven Sanchez, 21, was crowned homecoming queen during UNI's homecoming pep rally Friday night in Lang Hall. The senior communication studies major is the first transgender student to win the honor in UNI history.

"I am completely speechless I honestly didn't even think I would win," he said. "I am going to do everything I can to continue supporting the LGBT community and encourage everyone to get involved on campus no matter what it is."

Sanchez will reign over this year's homecoming court alongside Yaw Kyeremateng, a graduate student who was crowned king. The 440 students who attended Tuesday night's competition voted to select the winners.

Sanchez performed a drag routine during Tuesday night's competition, lip synching and dressing in drag to imitate singer Selena Gomez.

"I want to raise visibility of the LGBT community on campus," he said. "And I've never felt more accepted than I have here at UNI."

Sanchez nominated himself for the title in a new court application process instated last year by the Campus Activities Board. He detailed his work in the university relations department and on the UNI Proud board, an advocacy group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students and others.

UNI had not had a homecoming court since the 1970s.

Katlyne Schweig, the board's homecoming executive and UNI junior, said it was reinstated last year as part of a "throwback" homecoming theme.

"It's just another fun thing to add to the week of homecoming," she said. "In high school we always had kings and queens. We thought it would be interesting to bring that into college."

A panel of students and faculty selected ten applicants based on their academic standing, responses to essay questions and campus involvement. 

But any identification, like the name and gender of each candidate, was removed from applications before judges saw them, said Ashley Minshall, program coordinator of student activities.

"We wanted to make sure we were inclusive of all our students," she said.

Brad Freihoefer, director of the LGBT student services center at Iowa State University, applauded efforts by Sanchez to spread awareness about the LGBT community. He wasn't aware of ISU ever electing a transgender student as queen or king in its history.

"I think it's outstanding," he said. "I'm certainly excited and thrilled that students feel comfortable enough to come out and engage in that way."

Sanchez said he didn't attend a traditional high school because students bullied him for being effeminate. He said being crowned queen helps make up for his lack of a high school homecoming experience.

Cedar Falls/UNI education reporter for the Courier

(56) comments

avee

Where is the picture of the king ? Didn't she want her picture taken with the queen?
This is so stupid I can't believe it.

Rainie
Rainie

The stupidity of hate towards this beautiful queen is something I am having a hard time believing. And what exactly is so wrong with this? That she's accepted with how she presents herself. Can you honestly say how this is hurting anyone?

JD Kinnick
JD Kinnick

The PC crowd is filled with hate of anyone who dares to disagree with them.

wellread

Shame on you UNI. consider the students who actually have morals.

dontworryaboutit
dontworryaboutit

How does she not have morals?

Rainie
Rainie

Do you mean the morals to accept someone as they are and not the role you think they should play based off of genitalia? Shame on YOU.

victor672

And I guarantee you that anyone who dares to disagree with this sickness and perversity will be labeled a hater and a bigot. The brainwashing is now complete.

Rainie
Rainie

Well if you weren't filled with hate why would you disagree with this?

victor672

If you weren't "so filled with hate", why would you disagree with us? Is that what you've leaned in "college", that the only reason people have different beliefs or values is because they hate each other? If a Muslim and a Jew disagree about their beliefs does that mean they must hate each other, or can they coexist and even have dialogue? You need to rethink your constant parroting of the "hate" and "bigot" labels that you've been taught.

JD Kinnick
JD Kinnick

Absolutely! The only haters are the ones who hate logic and anyone who disagrees with them. No chance of a civil discussion with the closed minded PC crowd. .

pixelduster

Save your cost of phone calls to solicit contributions from my family. This University has become something I wish to not be associated with any longer.

Rainie
Rainie

It's sad how equality is something that you don't wish to be apart of.

victor672

FYI, "a part of" is three words, not two. But you were probably at a GLBT fest that day and had to skip class.

MaxBaby

Just bashers here? No one to say w2g UNI for being open minded with this?

Lia
Lia

That is so awesome I'm so happy for her, she deserves it!!!!! I'm proud of UNI

lgbt

This is amazing, I'm so proud of this university. Finally, Less judgement an hate in this world, it makes me proud to be here

wishtoremainanon

Steven, you're fabulous. Rock on.

dirty icicles

Wow, I can't believe all these previous comments. Let's make a big deal of something heart-warming and touching and sound like a bunch of assholes.
This WOMAN is beautiful, and I'm glad she won. She proved a point to all the people like you, and looks absolutely stunning while she's doing it. You go girl!

JD Kinnick
JD Kinnick

Steve is a man.

VRaymond

She is beautiful! It is so cool that she won!

kingpellinore

You go girl! So good to know that trans people are experiencing better acceptance in schools.
The only question I have is, why is this article calling her by what is obviously not her preferred name and calling her "he"? You can elect her homecoming queen but you can't use the right pronouns? Really now.

skyewilling

@kingpellinore,
Yes, I noticed the apparent problem of pronouns. However, an article at the UNI student newspaper states that Sanchez identifies as a male transgender student or gender queer, meaning he embraces the gender spectrum.

“I’m not 100 percent man or woman,” Sanchez said. “I don’t fit into either box.”
http://www.northern-iowan.org/biological-male-nominated-for-homecoming-queen-1.2840415

Assuming that article is correct, then the use of male pronouns for Sanchez would be appropriate. This wouldn't be the first news story in which a transgender person prefers to be identified by the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

skyewilling

Kingpellinore, according to the UNI student newspaper, Sanchez identifies as a male transgender person or gender queer, someone who doesn't fit 100% as either male or female. The UNI student newspaper uses male pronouns throughout, as well has Sanchez' birth name of Stephen. It is a little confusing, but perhaps that is what Sanchez prefers.

samseb27

She is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations to her, thank god the younger generation are showing kindness and acceptance for people a little different. One day people will look back on the discrimination LGBT people have suffered in the same way we look back in horror on the segregation and enslaving of black people. I think the uni should be very,very proud of themselves and see that they are pioneering in trans tolerance :)

marij

Pretty proud of the UNI student body. They show no prejudice or discrimination. Don't be so quick to put this event down. One day, you may find out your son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend isn't straight. The day you find out, remember, they are still the very same person you loved the day before.

HappyMom24

This is wonderful. Its so nice of this school to see everyone as a person and an individual rather than a labeled gender. Congratulations to this school.

njb
njb

That is AWESOME!!! And all u haters need to b put in ur place!!! I'm a heterosexual, Christian and NEVER promote HATE OR IGNORANCE!! IT'S human rights!!! THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE!!!

colefrick

Yikes, Hope to god none of these people commenting are apart of the University.... Glad she was crowned! She worked for it so she got it!

Pannelprin1

This is called respect and to the people who are hating on this I hope you know that you are worthless scum who can't even accept a person for who they are.

victor672

"Worthless scum"? Is that how you're taught to respond at UNI to those who have an opinion that varies from yours? I consider your values totally amoral, but I won't use the name-calling words that you and your friends use. I do feel sorry for you however.

FrancisTheCat

This is great! I'm so happy people are becoming more accepting of others lives! I will, and forever stand on the side of love!

Coco
Coco

The only problem I see abouy this how I feel when I see this.

How come you rock that dress better than me? I'm actually jealous of you! :)

On a serious note, GOOD JOB GIRL AND UNI!! You've taken a step to promote equality in your university. You give me lots of hope!

To the homecoming queen, don't let the people who hated it bring you down and just rock it, and give love. You don't answer to them anyway since they're not the one who breathes for you. Always have a gay day!!

Rainie
Rainie

This is beautiful! I am beyond impressed with University of Northern Iowa! <3

smlmeyer

Looks like I will be spending my day reporting users for abuse due to their ignorant comments. Good for you, Steven. You're an inspiration.

JD Kinnick
JD Kinnick

There seems to be a lot of hateful comments directed toward anyone who disagrees with the queen selection. I too will be reporting hateful and ignorant comments by those who agree with this "queen" selection.

JD Kinnick
JD Kinnick

The political correctness crowd is alive and well at UNI

victor672

The wicked strut about on every side
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men. --Psalm 12:8

avee

I will have to say this, the sexually confused and befuddled are organized.

cfpuke

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE KING

VRaymond

This is so inspiring! Thank you for the allies and support!

americanworker

Wasn't the theme throwback homecoming? Wouldn't it make sense to have a female queen and male king? Wow if alumni members from the 60s or 70s or a prior homecoming courts should be outraged. By the way ignorance is ignoring the fact that all comments may have their place in this "free" country. You can have relationships with who you choose or commit fraud by pretending to be a female and stripping someone of a title....that's politically correct....right...

VRaymond

Thank you! This is pure inspiration! Support for the community is so well appreciated!

dm1270

What does this say of the "women" of uni. Those uni students sure do have a sense of humor.

dm1270

Let this be a lesson to you students. 1st. No homecoming court since the 70's, 2nd A panel of ten purposely removes gender from the application . 3rd these efforts are applauded by the LGBT. Students pay attention to what's going on around you. The next thing you know, your signing up for the affordable healthcare act.

Finster

If the male pronouns are appropriate when referring to Sanchez than perhaps the title of "Homecoming King" would also have been more appropriate. Instead, all the women rightfully nominated for the title of "Homecoming Queen" got beat out by some dude named Steve.

Brian B

Amazing. In Iowa.

reojoe
reojoe

Yes, considering the fact that we were nearly the first state to legalize same sex marriage.

Simply amazing!

Brian B

I believe some of your Supreme Court Justices have been replaced since that vote, haven't they?

Dave88

So basically there is no more king or queen of homecoming at least in the sense of male or female. Other schools around the country are doing this also and the media is jumping on it. Seems like UNI is jumping on the bandwagon anything for the PC media!

victor672

It appears that "Rainie" has consumed the entire jug of Kool-Aid herself (himself??) and is rushing about, spitting it on those with whom he/she disagrees.

XXXLarge
XXXLarge

I guess this is where I am conflicted about this story. "Steve," is identifying with his male side, rather than his feminine side. Now if it were Stephanie and she was identifying with her feminine side I would be more accepting. Otherwise, how can you distinguish between the king and the queen. I have seen men with extreme feminine qualities, and if put them in a dress and makeup, you would never know. I have nothing against transgender people, I just feel that if you identify with being male dominant you should stick with that. If you identify with the female quality then stick with that. But this does kind of fly in the face of those who say, "God makes no mistakes." And "God made Adam and Eve not Adam & Steve." Well it looks like in this case God did make Adam & Steve.

reojoe
reojoe

As we learned when same sex marriage was legalized in Iowa that what will come next is now dogs and cats can become homecoming royalty at UNI, as well as multiple kings and queens, kind of like polygamy.

cfgolfer

How do real girls feel about losing to a man with an identity crisis? This isn't fair to the straight students.

JRV
JRV

"The last Homecoming queen election was held in 1970. For several years there had been criticism of the tradition on several fronts. First, some students believed that an election, based on physical appearance, was demeaning to women. And, second, some minority students believed that they were being excluded from the selection process. In 1970 minority students elected their own Homecoming royalty, Michael Reed and Mary Adams.

The Student Council declared that there would be no Homecoming queen election in 1971, and there has been none since then."

This comes from the UNI archives. It appears this is much ado about nothing. Fully 3% of the student population were involved in this revival of a "tradition". Maybe next year a Homecoming Cat?

Hmmmmm

Yawwwwn. I can't wait until this stuff is normalized and we can all move on to something more interesting.

chatty1
chatty1

I feel badly for all the women that wanted to be homecoming queen, that were beat out by a man. I guess UNI should have a homecoming king too for situations like this. If you're a male, you should have to be homecoming king no matter how you want to present yourself. Don't take the honor away from a woman. Another great tradition just flushed down the toilet.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.