Trans teen Dex Frier, a senior at Johnson High in Gainesville, Georgia, was nominated for prom king by several of his peers. But before the vote could even take place, the school decided they would never let that nomination come to fruition.
On March 15, the 17-year-old was called in by the principal and school supervisor for a private meeting. Frier said that during this meeting — which he describes as “upsetting” — the administration told him he was unable to run for prom king because he was not legally male.
Frier told BuzzFeed, who broke the story,
“They called me there to tell me I couldn’t run for prom king ’cause I wasn’t legally male and that was the way it was in Hall County [school district]. The only way I was eligible to run for prom was to be put on the prom queen ballot.”
Frier was naturally excited upon getting nominated, especially considering how few candidates there were.
“The announcement came on [and] I was one of six prom king candidates, which is insane. I was one among some of the most popular kids at school.”
But after the meeting with his principal and supervisor, Frier said he felt nothing but “suppressed.”
During the meeting, Frier said he was told that the superintendent of the school district, Will Schofield, was the one who ultimately made the decision to bar Frier from running.
“Just because I’m not legally male I was going to get excluded from something that every guy has the opportunity to be in high school. It was really upsetting. As a student, I felt I had the right to be put on the ballot.”
Many students agreed with Frier, citing that his rights were being violated. One of Frier’s friends, Fiona Sandi, even wrote a letter to Superintendent Schofield that said,
“By preventing Dex from running for prom king, the Hall County School Board is sending a message of intolerance that could act as a precedent for future issues regarding transgender rights.”
Sandi wasn’t the only student who had Frier’s back. Students launched a Change.org petition titled, “Allow transgender boy to run for Prom King.”
At the time of this article, the Change.org petition has received 31,586 signatures — more than double what it had when BuzzFeed premiered the story.
While the petition did prompt thousands of people to sign and has sparked outrage from people all over the world, in the end, Frier was not allowed to run for prom king. However, the school district did try to offer a compromise of sorts, offering Frier the title of “prom representative.” The school claimed Frier was voted the winner of a gender-neutral pool of two students total to claim the title. Frier friend Sandi told Buzzfeed,
“We’re still not sure if the policy of having gender-neutral prom representatives will be permanent or will revert back to the traditional prom king and queen.”
Regardless, the compromise wasn’t the end-result Frier (or people who rallied behind him) were hoping for. Frier asked the superintendent and principal to allow him to “express the way I feel and the way I think about myself… without having politics come into play.”
“Especially in a school setting. I don’t know of many trans people who go to this school [but] I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this. It hurts being told you don’t deserve the same rights as someone else because you’re not the same as them.”
In the end, Frier still decided to attend prom with his friends. Each friend brought a masquerade-like mask painted with the colors of the trans flag in support.
Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer and social media consultant who specializes in health and wellness content. Her words have appeared in Seventeen, Life & Style, Darling Magazine, and more. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton and writing a memoir.