Cassidy Lynn Campbell
Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register/ZUMA
09/23/2013 at 01:50 PM EDT
Cassidy Lynn Campbell did something typical when she was named her Southern California high school's homecoming queen. She wept.
But Campbell hopes her crown will serve a specific purpose: The transgender teen wants to open people's minds about gender identity.
"I wasn't doing this for me," 16-year-old Campbell, who lived as Lance Campbell until three years ago, told ABC News
. "I was doing this for so many others around the nation."
Winning the student vote over five other finalists, Campbell became the first trans homecoming queen at Huntington Beach's Marina High School, although she says she experienced some backlash when she had made it into the top 10.
"They think I'm just a boy doing this for fun ... just a boy dressing up as a girl and trying to win a crown when that is completely the opposite of what it is. I've always seen myself as a girl," Campbell, who has posted a number of YouTube videos
tracking her transformation from boy to girl, told ABC.
Eventually, she changed students' perceptions.
"I think it's really cool how we allowed her to run, and I just think it's a really good thing," student Kelsey Callanan told ABC.
Campbell's mother, Christine Campbell, was also amazed by her daughter's crowning achievement. "I never would have thought in my lifetime that I would see this," she said. "It's wonderful. She really did it."
"My goal isn't to be famous, it's to open people's eyes to the world around them, to teach people to be open minded and to rethink social norms," Campbell Tweeted
As for her homecoming victory: "This was for … every misunderstood child affected by ignorance."