A teenager from a small town in Virginia got shouted out at the Grammys, praised on progressive podcasts… and then his name echoed in a thousand headlines
Gloucester, Virginia has a population of about 37,000. I drove through it one time. It’s very small.
In 2015, then-16-year-old Gavin Grimm sued Gloucester School Division over its policy regarding gender identification and bathrooms. The case was similar to the fight that would take place a couple hours to the South over what became known as North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill,” although it didn’t garner the same kind of media attention (at least back then).
On Oct. 28, 2016, the Supreme Court, which had issued a stay following a lower court’s decision, announced that it would hear the case. The Washington Post called it “the most high-profile case the eight-member court has accepted since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.”
The court recently set oral arguments for March 28.
Explaining to “CBS This Morning,” why she told viewers to google Grimm’s name before introducing Lady Gaga and Metallica at the Grammys, TV star Laverne Cox said:
This will be the first time that the Supreme Court is hearing a case about trans rights. And last year over 50 bills criminalizing trans people for using the bathroom that’s consistent with their gender identity were introduced in state legislatures all over the country.
(And, not that you need a reminder, but this Trump’s America now.)
Cox’s shout-out almost could not have been from a bigger megaphone. According to the New York Times, Grammy viewers averaged 26 million, and that’s just the people that watched it live.
Over the following days and hours, the press exploded (as the screenshots show) with stories and articles about the case. From the LA Times to the New York Times; “The Daily Show” to “The Late Show.”
Grimm also got some mentions in the world of political podcasts —a refuge for many queer-identifying people and their allies.
John and Molly Knefel of Radio Dispatch discussed the case, on their Feb. 15 episode and explained how Cox’s move was “a perfect media strategy” in terms of keeping the case in the spotlight (starts at 42:50).
Citizen Radio’s Allison Kilkenny called called Grimm “an amazing person, and extremely brave and awesome,” on their Feb. 14 episode (12:30).
To those that care deeply about these issues — who are quite worried about the future these days — Grimm is undeniably a hero. He’s fighting a very important battle, the outcome of which will have major implications for the future of trans rights.
If they can make laws regulating which bathroom you can use, you can bet any remaining semblance of basic discrimination protections will be next.
Calling Grimm a hero may be the least we could do, considering that this case also robbed him of his high school years. He explained in an interview with the Daily Press:
[My] school experience is ruined and it will never not be ruined. It was taken from me, it was just blown out of the water. It’s never going to be what it should’ve been. It’s never going to be comfortable. I’m never going to be there and only have to think about what a normal high schooler has to think about. I’m always going to be the kid from the bathroom thing. I’m always going to be the transgender kid who made a fuss about bathrooms… [High school] is associated with many, many negative things at this point. And of course there’s the fear of, I’ve gotta go back and I can’t even use the men’s room. It’s ridiculous. And I have to go back in the face of this being so public… knowing that now more than ever there’s scrutiny on me by my peers.
Also from the Daily Press:
“It’s humiliating, it’s ostracizing and I don’t want to take that walk of shame to the unisex bathroom and know that everyone who saw me go in there knows why I’m in there — because I’m different, and I’ve been marked different by my school and publicly. … I’m not comfortable with it whatsoever. I’m not an ‘other’ and I’m not unisex, I’m a boy.”
And it’s not just his classmates. Imagine being the focal point of a national story in a community that, according to the New York Times, went 67 percent for Trump. When asked about the case, one local man told a reporter: “If they’re not fixed like a man, they should not use the men’s bathroom,” according to the Daily Press.
The video below includes some clips of parents’ negative comments about Grimm:
Maybe he should get like a day of the year or something…
Cue the #RealAmericanHeroes jingle.
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