Cassidy Lynn, who was born a boy named Lance but recently began to undergo hormone therapy to transition from male to female, said just running for the honor was a chance to express herself.
"If I win it would mean that the school recognizes me as the gender I always felt I was," Cassidy said before the election at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, Calif.
"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."
After she won, gold and blue balloons floating up to announce her victory at halftime at the school's homecoming football game, Cassidy broke down into tears while students in the crowd chanted her name.
"I was so proud to win, not just for me but for everyone out there," Cassidy told a crowd of gathered reporters. "I think it really shows the progression of the times."
Cassidy, who says she has always seen herself as a girl, said she has dealt with some negative attention, but blamed it on ignorance.
"They think that I'm just a boy doing this for fun, and I'm just a boy dressing up as a girl and trying to win a crown when that is completely the opposite of what it is," she said. "If this could help one child or more, or hundreds or thousands or millions, then it was more than worth it."