Evie Priestman — a transgender high school student in Arlington, Virginia — was cited in Southern Poverty Law Center’s amicus brief on behalf of Gavin Grimm with the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is his story.
I like to play guitar and tennis during my free time. I want to go to a liberal arts college and study to be a neurologist — and I am also transgender.
I always felt like a boy in elementary school. In those days, everyone knew me as a tomboy, which was comfortable for me. I felt most at home when my hair was short and I wore athletic clothes, which worked until middle school. Things were confusing for a few years. I didn’t know what to do about how I felt inside versus how I looked on the outside. But then I learned about other kids who were transgender, and I realized that this was my identity as well. I came out as male in the second week of freshman year.
I expected the reactions to my coming out and saying who I was to be negative, but people accepted me. I’m lucky because my mother has been very supportive and the reaction at school has been mostly positive. It takes people time to understand it. Most people have never met a transgender person before, which is why I did a TEDx Talk and contributed an article to The New York Times’ series “Transgender Today.” People don’t understand what they don’t know, and I want to help increase their understanding about the transgender community.
When I first came out I had to go to the nurse’s bathroom, which was far away from most of my classes. I didn’t like it. I felt like I had to go out of my way just to use the bathroom, but there really wasn’t a good reason for me to do that. I had to do this only because I was transgender, which really did not make any sense to me. At the beginning of sophomore year, I talked to my school counselor, who talked to the principal. He raised the issue with the leadership at Arlington Public Schools. Now I can go to the bathroom that fits my gender. It’s not a big deal, and none of the other guys in the bathroom care.
Just a few days before finishing this article, I received a notification announcing that the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance was giving their 2015 Equality Award to the Arlington County School Board for adding gender identity to the nondiscrimination code for students and employees. (More information here.)
I am very lucky to attend a school in a district with this policy. I can use the bathroom that fits my gender identity without a problem. When I heard about Gavin not being able to use the bathroom at his school in Virginia, I wanted to help. Transgender youth can face a lot of obstacles, so I felt we should be able to do something as simple as using the bathroom that reflects our gender identity. I hope Gavin’s case allows him to enjoy this simple right, just as I am.