Gavin Grimm Stood Up for Himself. Now We’re Standing With Him.

I will be standing up in court this morning on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old boy who just completed his sophomore year at Gloucester High School. Gavin is transgender and has a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. This means that even though he was assigned the sex of female at birth, he is a boy and lives in accordance with his male gender identity in all aspects of his life. He has had a legal name change and is identified as male on his driver’s license. With the permission of the high school principal Gavin used the boys’ restroom for almost two months without any problems.

But all that changed when some parents began complaining to the Gloucester County School Board about a “girl” in the boys’ room. During two public school board meetings, residents of Gloucester County — including people who did not even have school-age children — threatened to vote the board out of office if they did not pass a new policy to kick Gavin out of the boys’ restroom. Gavin and his parents sat at the school board meeting while strangers pointedly referred to him as “a young lady” to deliberately undermine his gender identity and warned about sexual predators.

One speaker called Gavin a “freak” and compared him to a person who thinks he is a dog and wants to urinate on fire hydrants. “All I want to do is be a normal child and use the restroom in peace,” Gavin told a room full of grown adults. “This could be your child. I’m just a human. I’m just a boy.”  

The school board caved, voting 6-1 to pass a new policy that limits access to the communal restroom based on “biological gender” and relegates students with “gender identity issues” to “alternative” restroom facilities. As a result, Gavin has been effectively banished to an alternative bathroom and conversations about his body and his personal medical information have been held in public in front of his classmates and the larger community.

Gavin’s case is reaching the courts at a critical time. 

While we continue to push for explicit protections in our federal civil rights statutes, it is now widely recognized by courts that discriminating against transgender people for their gender nonconformity already violates protections against sex discrimination in the Constitution and our civil rights laws. And in order to equally participate in school, work, and society, transgender people — like everyone else — have to use the restrooms. 

Today the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Education have all said that transgender people should be able to use the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity and cannot be segregated into separate restrooms away from everyone else.

But there has been pushback too.  

Last year we saw a wave of legislative attempts to prohibit transgender people from using the same restrooms as everyone else. Some bills even threatened to put a bounty on the heads of transgender people by offering rewards to anyone who reports that a transgender person is using the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. And people who oppose legal protections for transgender people are hoping that the policies adopted by federal agencies are rejected by the federal courts.

This is a civil rights issue and Gavin deserves our support.

That’s why the ACLU is in court today — to stand up for Gavin and for the rights of transgender people to participate equally and fully at school, at work, and in society. I hope you will join me in standing with Gavin.

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Anonymous

I honestly don't see how you will win this case. This is the first case I can remember in a while, where the ACLU is seeking accommodations at the peril of the constitutional rights of others (privacy). I think this is perhaps where you've pushed too far, and will lose a lot of the support you had during the gay marriage fight.

Where as gay marriage may force religious individuals into uncomfortable situations, they have an option of not participating. Participation in marriage ceremonies is not a life function.

In contrast, evacuating bowels is a life function. In public facilities, there remains little to no options. This is particularly true in public schools. There is no way for individuals to opt out.

There remains a legitimate government interest to maintain dichotomous restrooms.

Good luck.

Anonymous

This is a little hypocritical don't you think? The only privacy violations are that of trans individuals. We're so concerned with what genitals they might have and if they match a sign. And as you pointed out, this is a life function. Yet these bills are trying to make it so trans people cannot use a restroom. It's a lose lose for them don't you think?

Anonymous

Its a bathroom with stalls and urinals. Boys and girls could share it equally with total privacy and such unisex bathrooms do exist. To worry about such a thing in this case is ludicrous. It's not just a clear violation of her rights its a clear violation of common sense.

Anonymous

His

Anonymous

Hers, actually

Anonymous

His. Gavin is a boy.

Anonymous

Hers. I'm referring to her sex, not gender. If I was referring to gender, I would say his.

Anonymous

That doesn't make grammatical sense. Pronouns agree with gender, not with sex. The only words in the English language you could possibly argue to be referential to sex are "female" and "male." "Girl, boy, he, she, woman, man" are all gendered words. To say you're using them to refer to sex is disrespectful to Gavin and just grammatically incorrect. Not to mention, sex is made up of hormones, chromosomes, genitals, mammaries, and goands. You know he was designated female at birth, but that just means a doctor looked at his crotch and said "it's a girl!" So you can only make an educated guess about his genitals. You have no way of knowing his status in regards to the other five characteristics that make up his sex. Considering he has a medical history involving dysphoria which has been treated, it's quite possibly he's undergone transitional therapy, so you really have no way of knowing his sex.

Helen

I'd stand with Gavin too. Maybe being female, I'm not comfortable with the idea of urinals - the idea of urinating while others can see me (even if the etiquette is you don't look, you're still in view of someone), is just anathema to me. And what people do in a stall is private. So what someone's original biological organs were originally is an academic detail.

The very best of luck to Gavin and all those who support him.

Bode

This kind of bigotry stems solely from religious fanaticism. Crouching behind a 2,000 year old book of fables written by bronze age goat herders, these idiots attempt to rebrand their hate as religion. Sickening. I support Gavin 100%

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