This Court Decision in the Gavin Grimm Case Will Bring Tears to Your Eyes

On April 7th, the Fourth Circuit overturned Gavin Grimm's win from last year, based on the Supreme Court's decision last month not to hear the case. Gavin had won the right to use the boys' restroom on the same terms as other boys but the school district appealed his win. The Fourth Circuit will now hear oral argument later this year to determine whether Title IX protects transgender students independently of any federal guidance on the issue one way or the other. Two of the three judges that considered Gavin's case, Senior Judge Andre Davis joined by Judge Henry Floyd, issued this moving opinion noting that Gavin's "journey is delayed but not finished" and recognizing Gavin's important role in the history of movements for justice.

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I concur in the order granting the unopposed motion to vacate the district court’s preliminary injunction and add these observations.

G.G., then a fifteen-year-old transgender boy, addressed the Gloucester County School Board on November 11, 2014, to explain why he was not a danger to other students. He explained that he had used the boys’ bathroom in public places throughout Gloucester County and had never had a confrontation. He explained that he is a person worthy of dignity and privacy. He explained why it is humiliating to be segregated from the general population. He knew, intuitively, what the law has in recent decades acknowledged: the perpetuation of stereotypes is one of many forms of invidious discrimination. And so he hoped that his heartfelt explanation would help the powerful adults in his community come to understand what his adolescent peers already did. G.G. clearly and eloquently attested that he was not a predator, but a boy, despite the fact that he did not conform to some people’s idea about who is a boy. 

Regrettably, a majority of the School Board was unpersuaded. And so we come to this moment. High school graduation looms and, by this court’s order vacating the preliminary injunction, G.G.’s banishment from the boys’ restroom becomes an enduring feature of his high school experience. Would that courtesies extended to others had been extended to G.G.

Our country has a long and ignominious history of discriminating against our most vulnerable and powerless. We have an equally long history, however, of brave individuals—Dred Scott, Fred Korematsu, Linda Brown, Mildred and Richard Loving, Edie Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, to name just a few—who refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them. It is unsurprising, of course, that the burden of confronting and remedying injustice falls on the shoulders of the oppressed. These individuals looked to the federal courts to vindicate their claims to human dignity, but as the names listed above make clear, the judiciary’s response has been decidedly mixed. Today, G.G. adds his name to the list of plaintiffs whose struggle for justice has been delayed and rebuffed; as Dr. King reminded us, however, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” G.G.’s journey is delayed but not finished.

G.G.’s case is about much more than bathrooms. It’s about a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. It’s about protecting the rights of transgender people in public spaces and not forcing them to exist on the margins. It’s about governmental validation of the existence and experiences of transgender people, as well as the simple recognition of their humanity. His case is part of a larger movement that is redefining and broadening the scope of civil and human rights so that they extend to a vulnerable group that has traditionally been unrecognized, unrepresented, and unprotected.

G.G.’s plight has shown us the inequities that arise when the government organizes society by outdated constructs like biological sex and gender. Fortunately, the law eventually catches up to the lived facts of people; indeed, the record shows that the 4 Commonwealth of Virginia has now recorded a birth certificate for G.G. that designates his sex as male.

G.G.’s lawsuit also has demonstrated that some entities will not protect the rights of others unless compelled to do so. Today, hatred, intolerance, and discrimination persist — and are sometimes even promoted — but by challenging unjust policies rooted in invidious discrimination, G.G. takes his place among other modern-day human rights leaders who strive to ensure that, one day, equality will prevail, and that the core dignity of every one of our brothers and sisters is respected by lawmakers and others who wield power over their lives.

G.G. is and will be famous, and justifiably so. But he is not “famous” in the hollowed-out Hollywood sense of the term. He is famous for the reasons celebrated by the renowned Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shehab Nye, in her extraordinary poem, Famous. Despite his youth and the formidable power of those arrayed against him at every stage of these proceedings, “[he] never forgot what [he] could do.” Judge Floyd has authorized me to state that he joins in the views expressed herein.

See N. S. Nye, Famous:

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

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Jay Holland

Indeed it is a very powerful concurrence. The story inadvertently omits the name of the author, The Honorable Andre Davis, of Maryland.

Anonymous

Is Anthony Romero a gay-gay?

Anonymous

Who gives a damn. He fights for the rights of ALL.

Catholic Priest

I don't know if he's gay. I do that all of the priests caught molesting their boys were white men. I also know that Sandusky is a white male. I also know that 70% of domestic violence and molesters are white males. Who should we fear, the gay or the white man.

Gay Jew

Who cares. Who is a suspected Homosexual is Jesus Christ. Yup, Jesus, he also has a foot fetish. He slept in "brotherly" love with 12 other men and washed their feet daily.

Jesus, who would have thought. A gay Jew with a foot fetish. Read it, its all in the Bible.

Anonymous

If you don't hear or read some1 talking religion when speaking against homosexuality/lesbianism, then ask them if they base it on religion & don't assume you know their faith. If a person is not a Christian such as a Muslim, Hindu, etc. There are atheists who are against gay/lesbian conduct, so it is possible to not believe in God & be against gay/lesbian agenda, though religious people are more likely to be against gay/lesbian agenda while atheists are more likely to be apologists for gay/lesbian agenda but not always case so don't assume you know their faith if they didn't say anything religious, as there are atheists who are against gay/lesbian conduct.

About me-I'm not religious, though I did go to Christian schools when as a boy (1970s)as we had immigrated to in 1972 & my parents believed Christian schools would give better education. Turns out 1 of the priests @ our school was a gay pedofile. I am not religious because among other things, if there's a God, then why do bad things happen in world ? All transexuals are homosexual/lesbian as the act of mutilating to become false opposite sex is itself an act of homosexuality/lesbianism-sad maiming and make this illegal.

Anonymous about me

"About me". About you is all you do is spew the same illogical hatered every post. I read your posts, yes you are "wrong". Please post something intelligent that doesn't highlight your twisted views on society and freedom. Get some counseling for your molestion as a kid. Don't hate others.

Anonymous

People distrust mainstream psychologists or mental health ‘professionals’ on homosexuality because-http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200909/why-shrinks-have-problems
Psychologists and psychiatrists often have disorders of their own because they deal with people’s problems such as paranonia, schizophrenia and the stress of that job can mess up mind. Psychologists and psychiatrists deal with other people’s problems and that can stress the mind. The fact that psychologists and psychiatrists often have problems of their own makes their findings useless because if they can not solve their own problems, then when they research this, they are often wrong. Mainstream psychology/medicine is not to be trusted on gay/lesbian topic and too many people accept what is said w/o challenging or having doubts-experts can say things to support any agenda.

Anonymous

If you go to women's locker rooms such as in a gym, you can see women changing & if there are beautiful women in there changing, then yes, I'd like to see that, esp. if a woman's has nice big natural boobs. If a man can find a woman in the women's locker room who wants to have sex with a man, then he'll take her home. Also when a woman pees, farts and shits in the bathroom, she has to get bottom nude in order to sit down on toilet to pee, fart and shit.

Men would like for pretty women to go into men's bathrooms & men want to be able to go into women's bathrooms if there are pretty women in there. Men don't want other men shitting there & most men would rather see a pretty nude woman in men's bathroom & men want to go into women's bathrooms to see pretty women naked.

Reply to a buffoon

Your comment has added nothing to the conversation. You are off topic, saying creepy things, and don't seem to understand what this article is about. Most people go into a bathroom to pee and go back to work. Most people go into a locker room to change before a workout or shower afterwards. Most people appreciate privacy in such spaces. (You don't seem to be like most people.)

The acts you are alluding to (staring at other who change) can be commited by anyone of any gender identify in any locker room with any of a wide variety of sexual preferences.

The thing is, the act of staring inappropriately or touching someone inappropriately can be committed by anyone. Those acts are wrong. It has nothing to do with gender identity. I don't want you in a locker room I'm in because of how creepy you sound; I could care less what your gender identity is. Do some soul searching and try to learn about this issue from a rational human being or the research behind it please!

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