When Anry Fuentes slipped on the cheerleader's uniform at her California high school, becoming the first transgender member of the squad was the last thing on her mind. It made me sad when I didn't make the team last year, so I just thought in my senior year it has to happen.
I was just happy and excited. Fuentes, 18, grew up as a boy named Henry before making the decision to dress and identify as a female earlier this year. She is the first transgender member of the team at Denair High School, located some two hours east of San Francisco.
And while she initially wanted to make the team as a goal for herself, she hopes her journey might inspire others in similar situations. Now I feel like I want to help.
When Fuentes first made the team in April, she was still identifying as a boy and was issued a male cheerleading uniform. She later decided to tell the team about her transition during a group meeting. It was a little scary because I didn't how they would react.
Many of them have known Fuentes for a long time after growing up together in a small town where the high school has less than students. She's been part of the Denair family for a long time.
I don't think we've learned anything we didn't already know. While the Denair community has embraced her, Fuentes had some concern about how crowds would react during away games for the football team. No one has said anything bad.
Fuentes' father died when she was young, and she said her mother has struggled with her transition. She wants to try out for the cheerleading team at a junior college on her way to her ultimate goal of becoming a dental hygienist.
As for her time at Denair, the hope is that when the next transgender student comes along looking to be part of the cheerleading team, it won't be a story any more. IE 11 is not supported.
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