The Supreme Court did something pretty extraordinary on Oct. 28, 2016.
It announced that next year, the justices will hear a likely game-changing case for transgender rights in the United States.
Usually the justices are hesitant to hear cases on hot-button topics with large ramifications, as Reuters noted — especially now that the court is short its tie-breaking ninth justice.
But not this time.
In 2017, the court will decide whether senior Gavin Grimm will be able to use the bathroom that matches his gender identity at his high school in rural Virginia.
Grimm was assigned female at birth. But in 2014, when he was beginning high school as a freshman, he came out as transgender to his family. He began undergoing hormone treatments and changed his name.
Since Grimm is a guy, he naturally wanted to use the boys’ restroom. It caused an uproar.
Grimm’s principal allowed him to use the bathroom that matched his identity. The school district, however, wasn’t thrilled. It mandated that students in Gloucester County use restrooms that correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth, NBS News reported.
As for trans students like Grimm? They would need to use single-occupant bathroom facilities.
“I continue to suffer daily because of the school board’s decision to make my bathroom use a matter of public debate,” Grimm wrote in The Washington Post.
Grimm, arguing the new rule left him feeling isolated and stigmatized, sued. The Fourth U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Virginia agreed with him, too — the school district’s mandate violated Title IX, a measure that prohibits discrimination by sex in any school receiving federal funding, the court argued.
It was a landmark decision, raising the bar for protections of transgender students.
The Supreme Court justices put the lower court’s ruling on hold in August to decide whether to take up the case themselves — which leaves us where we are today.
The court’s decision in 2017 could have a lasting impact on these discriminatory “bathroom bills” that have crept up across the country, most notably in North Carolina.
With approval from Gov. Pat McCrory, the Tar Heel State passed HB2 earlier this year — a measure that strips away many LGBTQ protections and forces all North Carolinians to use the bathroom that matches the sex they were assigned at birth in government buildings.
Just this week, the state lost out on a $250 million business development when a real estate firm decided to go elsewhere — and take its job openings, too — according to Business Insider. HB2 played a major role in the firm’s decision.
Grimm’s case is causing a wave of hope among transgender activists and allies who want to make sure all American students can feel safe at school — and not stigmatized — regardless of how they identify.
“Now that I am visible, I want to use my position to help the country see transgender people like me as real people just living our lives,” wrote Grimm. “We are not perverse. We are not broken. We are not sick. We are not freaks.”
“I hope the justices of the Supreme Court can see me and the rest of the transgender community for who we are — just people,” Grimm wrote. “And rule accordingly.”
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