High school can be tough.
You remember, fitting in, finding friends, losing them—the daily drama that can feel like a full blown crisis at 14.
If that was your reality freshman year, Homestead High School junior Nikko Nelson can relate.
Nikko Nelson is transgender and began transitioning in eighth grade.
“As a freshman, oh my god, zero friends,” she said. “I just kind of shuffled through, got to my class.”
There was even a moment when she considered leaving Homestead, she said, because her freshman year was so tough. But, it got better. She made more friends and people got to know her. The real Nikko.
“A lot of my friends say you’re just a girl, my friend. They’re not like, ‘oh you’re my transgender friend, you’re just a friend.'”
Nikko says she owes a lot to her parents, Brian and Eileen, who were overwhelmingly supportive from the beginning of her transition.
“We saw a child who was sad and despondent,” said her father. “But, what we got in exchange is this vibrant, happy, joyful human being. There is absolutely no doubt we’re doing the right thing.
“That’s how all parents should be,” said her mother. “We should love our children for who they are. It seems so basic.”
But Nikko says, from her experience, not everyone sees it that way.
“People just need to take a step back and realize that it’s not an epidemic, it’s not an agenda. They’re just people trying to live their lives, and they need to live theirs.”
So she pushed on through high school with that attitude. And, by the end of her junior year at Homestead, she’d get a huge surprise at the junior prom…
“I was voted to be on the court, and then I was surprised. But, then I was like, ‘I’m not going to win.'”
That doubt would soon melt away, and Nikko would make history. She became the first transgender person to be voted prom queen by her peers at Homestead.
Nikko’s story caught the attention of local and national media and she would soon receive even more recognition. This time, it came from Pridefest Milwaukee. She won the Valor award, for living as her true, authentic self.
But, even with all the attention, Nikko stays humble, hesitant to call herself courageous.
“I literally just see myself as a normal person, living my normal life. And to think of me living my life is courageous and setting the scene for other people is crazy to think, because I am just living my life.”
Nikko will appear in the Pride parade this weekend, just “living life” as she says, out and proud.