Fresno, Calif., Transgender Student Misses Winning Title of Prom King

A transgender candidate for prom king made an elegant appearance to the Fresno High School dance in a tuxedo Saturday night, but missed winning the title, school officials said.

Cinthia Covarrubias, 17, identifies as transgender, an umbrella term that covers all people whose outward appearance and internal sense of being male or female doesn't match their gender at birth. Gay youth advocates believe it was the first time in the U.S. that an openly transgender student had run for prom royalty.

School officials added the teen's name to the ballot for prom king Thursday although she is biologically female, reversing a previous district protocol allowing only males to run for king and only females to run for prom queen. The district's lawyers had recommended the change to comply with a state law protecting students' ability to express their gender identity on campus.

Covarrubias' peers, however, elected one of her six male competitors, Dan Abril, as prom king at an outdoor reception hall festooned with Chinese lanterns Saturday night, Fresno Unified School District spokeswoman Susan Bedi said. School officials did not announce runners up, or the number of votes received by any candidate.

Supporters still hailed Covarrubias' campaign as a major victory for gender expression on campus.

"I hope this opens up something new," Covarrubias said before Saturday's crowning. "I've been really excited about it and feeling a lot of hope."