Winning homecoming queen at the University of Northern Iowa was seriously one of the most impactful experiences of my life. So much so, that almost all my favorite stories begin with me saying, “Winning homecoming queen at the University of Northern Iowa was seriously one of the most impactful experiences of my life.”
But really. Aside from the fact that I received international media attention (Huffington Post UK + some random student newspaper in Japan = international), the experience made me really start to analyze my gender identity to the point where it’s recently changed. (I no longer identify as just “genderqueer.”)
But undeniably, the most transformative part of the whole homecoming queen thing was when I kind of, almost became a reality TV star.
About a week after my win, I got an email from a casting person at MTV (let’s call her Winston Mallard) about participating in some docu-series thing. She didn’t give too many details in the email, so of course, I immediately assumed that MTV wanted to give me my own reality show.
Realistically, I knew it was probably a small part in some “True Life” thing. (Spoiler alert: It was.) But I was convinced, first, that I’d for sure be chosen to participate (because, I mean, I’m totally charming and my story is hella inspiring), and also that once filming began, the producers would fall in love with me, and viewers would respond so well that I’d be offered my own reality show and become totally famous, release my own handbag line and be able to pay off my student loans in a month.
Or something like that.
Okay, so I knew I was being ridiculous. I didn’t seriously believe that would happen. But I hoped it would and I kind of thought some of it was actually a possibility.
You’d totally binge-watch this, don’t even lie.
After speaking to Winston about my background and post-grad plans, I was so excited that I legit wrote out a synopsis for the show and designed promo posters while waiting to hear back from her, to help ease the stress of my looming graduation and put off homework.
I’m obviously very humble and don’t want to sound too full of myself, but my idea was totally amazing.
Not only was I about to graduate, which is always an interesting and terrifying experience ripe for reality TV messiness, but I was also seriously considering transitioning, which adds a whole other interesting angle to the story. That’s part of the reason I was certain MTV would call me back—I was in such an interesting place in my life that an engaging narrative emerged naturally.
I came up with the—slightly offensive, yet applicable—title of “Post-Grad, Pre-Op.”
The show would follow me and my BFF Daye as we pursue our career and gender goals (and, let’s be real, go out dancing and make out with cute boys). It was a totally solid idea.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out this amazing summary (which I also wrote):
Daye and Eve are two best friends who are as different as night and day, but they have one thing in common—they’re transgender. They’ve made names for themselves at their small midwest university and now hope to replicate their college success in the career world—while starting their transition from male to female.
Eve is a ditzy girly girl and amateur “drag” performer who dreams of working in the magazine world. Daye is an aspiring political communications professional and edgy fashionista who also moonlights as a performer. They couldn’t be more different, but they share the same struggle of starting their transitions while trying to launch their professional careers, all while experiencing the typical trials of any twenty-something.
You’d totally binge-watch that, don’t even lie.
Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox who? tbh.
Unfortunately, I never heard back from anyone at MTV. But it’s totally fine. In spite of a few months of disappointment and depression that came after my original plans fell through (I’ll write more about that later), post-grad life hasn’t been that bad. It hasn’t been anything like I hoped or expected, but it’s still been totally fab in a different way.
Plus, VH1 is producing a reality show featuring Carmen Carrera and several other gorgeous transwomen, including—get this—a recent college grad pursing gender transition, so my show is totally unnecessary at this point. (Someone totally stole my idea, let’s be real. Considering suing for a spot on the show.)
But seriously, even though part of my desire to make this show was completely shallow and greedy, there was another part of me that knew that it was an important story to tell. What matters is that those stories are starting to be told. Because as amazing as it is that Laverne Cox has become such a huge mainstream star with “Orange is the New Black,” there still aren’t enough trans narratives in mainstream media. I wanted to help make that happen.
But it’s almost better that it’s happening without me, because it means that the trans community is gaining more exposure and acceptance. I would have loved to be a part of that, but I’m glad it’s happening either way.
Although, there’s still a part of me that hopes fame is in my future, if only because I have the best name for my first celebrity perfume.
Also known as Transgender Homecoming Queen Steven Sanchez, xxevex is the founder and editor-in-chief of LGBTeen. You can find them blogging about topics they're super-passionate about, like feminism, LGBT activism, gender identity and pop culture. But mostly pop culture.