On Friday, a high school transgender senior in Huntington Beach will learn whether she will become one of five finalists for homecoming queen.
It's a quest that first swept through Cassidy Campbell's mind last year, but she pushed the impulse aside. It would just be a joke, she told herself.
Now the senior sees it as a chance to make a statement.
At Marina High's homecoming pep rally Friday, the field of 10 homecoming queen candidates will be narrowed to five. Hours later, the queen will be crowned at the school's football game.
Cassidy, 16, has revved up a social-media campaign in an effort to win the homecoming crown at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, joining a growing but still-thin group of transgender teens across the country who see an opportunity to shake up gender norms by competing in what's long been a tradition-bound, sex-segregated American staple.
"If I win, it would mean that the school recognizes me as the gender I always felt I was," Cassidy said.
Assigned male at birth but knowing she wasn't a boy, the teen walked through the glass entrance of Marina High in August for the first time as Cassidy Lynn Campbell.
As far back as Cassidy can remember she was drawn to dolls and pink dresses.
On her bed, she recently had a black leather and chiffon dress, which she plans to wear to the game. Next to it, a bohemian-patterned dress, with three-quarter-length sleeves. That, she'll wear to Saturday's homecoming dance.
School officials have not stood in Cassidy's way.
"If Marina High School is to make high-profile news during its homecoming week this year," Principal Paul Morrow said in a statement, "then we are proud that the message is one of equity and individual respect."
Cassidy believes she has a good shot at being crowned.
"But with all the attention, I realized it's bigger than me," she said. "I'm doing this for the kids who can't be themselves."