Dreams do come true.
And for Anry Fuentes, that dream was to become the first transgender cheerleader at her California high school.
“When I was first trying out for the cheer squad, I wasn’t like, ‘I’m going to be the first transgender girl,’” the young Latina told PEOPLE. “I was just trying out because I wanted to be a cheerleader, and I wanted to dance and cheer.”
Fuentes tried out for the varsity squad twice, before she finally made the team in her senior year at Denair High School in Denair, Calif. Anry was born a male, but never felt right in her own body. It wasn’t until she started to transition during her junior year that everything began to click – including the support of her team.
“They were like, ‘We support you for who you are. We love you, and it’s not going to change anything. We’re not going to see you any differently,’” Fuentes said when she told her cheer squad about her decision to transition. “No one has ever made me feel weird or like I shouldn’t be there. They’re really supportive.”
Unfortunately, that same support system wasn’t found at home. Anry was kicked out of her mother’s house when she came out as trans.
“She told me if I didn’t start dressing like the gender I was issued when I was born that she was going to throw all my stuff away,” Fuentes said. “That gave me the hint that she didn’t want me there anymore because she knew I wasn’t going to stop dressing as I felt. I packed my stuff and I left, and I went to live with another cheerleader.”
Even with a less-than-ideal situation at home, Fuentes is happy to finally feel like her true self. “I’m kind of glad that it’s getting out, so it can help others who are struggling,” she says. “I have been getting a lot of really nice messages from transgender girls and parents who are like, ‘Your story is really touching, you’re so strong.’
Thankfully, Fuentes and her mother are now working on their relationship, and the 17-year-old hopes to move back into her house soon.