Watch CBS News

Transgender Miss San Francisco to make history at pageant for state title

Transgender Miss San Francisco to make history at pageant for state title
Transgender Miss San Francisco to make history at pageant for state title 03:36

SAN FRANCISCO -- When beauty queens from across the state compete in the Miss California pageant next month, this year's Miss San Francisco will make history when she takes the stage. She will be fighting for more than just a crown and a title. 

It's a moment Monroe Lace will never forget. Earlier this year she was crowned Miss San Francisco.

"It felt like a dream, because it's been a dream that I've had since I was a child," Lace explained. "Even though I am Miss San Francisco, I know my impact is much greater than that."

Monroe is the first transgender woman in the Miss San Francisco pageant's 99 year history. The crown and sash are more than just accessories. 

"Every time I put on the sash, the weight of it reminds me of the weight of my job; of the responsibility I have to make a difference for young children," Monroe said. 

As part of her Miss San Francisco duties, Monroe visits a different elementary school in the city almost every day. CBS News Bay Area followed along as she read a book called "Sparkle Boy" to the 4th grade class at Tenderloin Community School. 

It wasn't that long ago that Monroe wasn't sure if her own story would have a happy ending.

"Four years ago, I ran away from home. In the middle of the night, I packed everything in a single suitcase. Because I'd rather be loved and homeless than in a home that didn't love me," she said.

Monroe has lived in a single-room-occupancy hotel or SRO for the past four years. That's the longest of any tenant currently in the building. She's seen the ugliest sides of the city first-hand.

"One of my neighbors overdosed a few months ago. When I think about my story, my story isn't unique. That's the unfortunate truth," said Monroe. "There are so many transgender women that have the same experience I do, and they are not as lucky."

Those experiences helped prepare her for what came after she won the title. 

"I've gotten death threats. I've gotten mean comments about my appearance or the way that I look," she said. "Even though there are hateful comments that say those things, I also know that there is a trans kid out there or a victim out there who is reading that story as well. Maybe not commenting on it, but reading it and knowing that I'm going to be ok."

Later this summer she will represent San Francisco and compete for the title of Miss California. But in the eyes for 4th grader Camila Soberanis, she's already won. 

"It was beautiful, 'cause I didn't care if she was a boy or a girl. It was just like...normal," said Soberanis.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.