‘I Am Fighting This Fight Because No Kid Should Have to Think So Hard About Performing a Basic and Private Function of Being Alive.’

Gavin Grimm is a 16-year-old male transgender student in Glouster County, Virginia. On January 27, 2016, the ACLU and ACLU of Virginia argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to allow Gavin to use the male restroom at school. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have ruled that, under Title IX, schools must allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity. This is the first time that a federal court of appeals will rule on the issue. Below are remarks Gavin delivered after the court arguments.

Standing at the school board meeting last year was equal parts humiliating and terrifying.

Humiliating because, at age 15, I had to witness adults of my community discuss in a public forum some rather intimate details of my anatomy. In plainer words, the anatomy of a 15-year-old was considered appropriate for public conversation by the Gloucester County School Board.

For any kid that would be mortifying. However, for a kid who is transgender, bringing to the forefront of people’s minds the very part of themselves that already makes them dysphoric is incomparably distressing.

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I sat by while people repeatedly called me a girl. "She." "Her." "Young lady." "Confused young lady." Even "freak." Bullying is already an enormous problem for high-school-aged youth, and especially transgender youth. To hear adults of my community treat me as if I was a creature for their ridicule and observation, or some oddity on a stage, was incredibly dehumanizing to an extent I could not possibly convey.

And of course, I was terrified. Firstly, because the school board had the power to bar me from the correct restroom for the rest of my time at Gloucester High School. Secondly, because I was in a room full of adults who thought it appropriate to have this sort of vulgar discussion, who would clap or cheer after every derogatory statement, of which there were many.

After enduring all of that — twice — I felt as though I couldn't possibly take any more hits. But I did, because at the end of the school board meetings, my school board chose to enact a policy that would further alienate and stigmatize me by forcing me to use separate restrooms from all of the other students at school. For me, the thought of going into a separate restroom which might as well have been labelled "other" was just far too much to bear. The trek to the restroom in the nurse’s office each time it was necessary was similarly humiliating, similarly upsetting and othering and dysphoria-inducing. The only difference was that it was just slightly less conspicuous.

I hope that I will be one of the last kids that has to go through something like this, and I am going to do what I can to ensure that. 

I am fighting this fight because no kid should have to think so hard about performing a basic and private function of being alive. No kid struggling to be accepted, and struggling to accept themselves, should have to simultaneously battle for the right to use the correct bathroom. That is why I have come to this point. I hope that I will be one of the last kids that has to go through something like this, and I am going to do what I can to ensure that. 

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Laura Mallory

You go for it the world needs your type of heroism. Run for president in 10 years and if I am still around I will vote for you!

LiveWire

Well, 20, given he will be just over the minimum age, but sentiment totally agreed with on my part.
Keep fighting the good fight, Gavin. There are many, many people behind you, and the tide is turning to be with you.

Pamela

My child is also transgendered and I don't love him any less. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this from grown adults who should be accepting and nurturing and safe. You have far surpassed their intelligence. Keep fighting the good fight and remember you are paving the way for others. Chin up and don't give up! Peace!

Chris Sands

Gavin, you are the new face of civil rights in America. Hang in there. You are right and you will win.

Githany

You are an incredibly well spoken young man. I'm so sorry people said terrible things about you, please keep standing up for yourself and for other people who are discriminated against. The world needs to hear more voices like yours.

Rosalie Welsh

I am greatly impressed with your bravery, intelligence, and eloquence. I'm sorry you have to go through this. But I want you to know that you are not alone and that there are people who support you in your right to be who you are. I am one of them. I will be sharing your story with those in my sphere of influence so that others may be inspired by your example. All the best to you.

Christopher

I thought, ask read this, how 15 year old me would respond if I were the classmate of a transgender teenager forced to acquiesce to the bigoted and ignorant stance of adults generations out of touch. I hope all the allies and friends of students forced to use "separate but equal" facilities flood that nurse's office every time they need to use the restroom as well. Make it the place to be while you wait to use the facility. Stand with your friend, stand for what's right, stand up and be heard.

Anonymous

thank you for your service to LGBTQIA people everywhere thank you very much for your service Sir thank you for your courage

Elizabeth Neuman

Your shedding light on a civil rights issue that is not new, but has just been buried for a long time, and is finally getting the attention it so rightly deserves. Thanks for your bravery in being a voice for trans youth. Please hang in there and remain strong. There are so many people rooting for you!

Anonymous

While it may seem unfair and uncomfortable for him/her to discuss his/her anatomy, and this human , "shouldn't have to think about, or discuss basic life functions as a kid", I would say that the thinking about which apparatus one SHOULD have, has got to be a n unnecessary process of thoughts. While the uncomfortable public stumbles, imperfectly to get the bathrooms and pronouns correct, the complications from the outside/public will be seen correctly as a secondary confusion. If he/she's thinking about having the wrong sexual organs, how the public discusses the matter, is not creating the problem. It's a basic function, with a bodily part that was given. If he/she "thinks" he/she got the wrong one, the overwhelming thinking about what is basic to a human has already gone astray and he/she is not the only one over thinking it. Best of luck.

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