SNOHOMISH — As a fourth-grader, Ve’ondre Mitchell came out as transgender at Seattle Hill Elementary.
This year, she was voted Glacier Peak High School’s first Black openly trans homecoming queen.
Mitchell, a senior known to most as “Ve,” has reached millions as a viral TikTok star, where she records snippets of her life and doesn’t back down from the haters.
“She gets recognized everywhere,” said Sarah Mitchell, Ve’s mother.
Yet being crowned queen was unexpected.
“I didn’t know I had this much support from my peers,” she said. “And it honestly just felt so validating, liberating — all the good things.”
Ve Mitchell is paving the way for other girls like her to get the accolades they deserve, said Chinoso Okoroafor, a friend and a Glacier Peak senior.
Ve’s crowning was “not just a win for Black girls. It’s a win for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Okoroafor, who was also nominated for homecoming court. “She’s winning for a small group of people, and representing that group of people is really important. I’m really proud of her.”
When some students made transphobic comments at school and on social media, Superintendent Kent Kultgen was quick to respond.
“We do not approve of nor do we accept these actions and are committed to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment for all,” he wrote in a statement.
But “there needs to be more education” to address the hate, said Macy Branshaw, a Glacier Peak senior who is also Ve’s friend.
“Ve living her life is not something you can just have an opinion on,” Branshaw. said.
A group of students declared the week after homecoming Transgender Pride Week in honor of Ve and passed out trans pride flags in the school’s commons.
“I’m really happy that I could be somebody to pave the way for future students to not have to go through any of that,” Ve said, “but also just to be celebrated.”
Branshaw has known Ve since first grade and said she watched her grow into a confident leader.
“A lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community have become more comfortable at our school” because of Ve’s work and social media presence, Branshaw said.
Ve and Okoroafor serve as vice president and president, respectively, of Glacier Peak’s Black Student Union. Ve joined BSU as a sophomore. Back then, the group was so small they sometimes cancelled meetings. But now, around 50 people show up every week, including white students who want to learn, Branshaw said.
Okoroafor said Ve will leave a legacy at Glacier Peak.
“I want people to know that she’s making change and she is doing what she is with confidence,” Okoroafor said.
After she graduates, Ve wants to continue serving as a positive light and leader. She said Snohomish has taught her to have “thicker skin,” and to be brave.
“I really had to learn how to embrace myself before I was embraced by anyone else,” she said. “A lot of the times growing up, the kids weren’t always the greatest, but they grew to understand me. And that helped me also understand myself. So moments like this are like a celebration of myself.”
Herald reporter Ellen Dennis contributed to this article.