On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled against a transgender restroom policy at a Virginia high school. The policy bans transgender students from using the restroom of the gender of which they identify, according to the Associated Press. The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the policy to be discriminatory and overruled the Gloucester County School Board policy.
The case was brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old high school student who was born as female but identifies as a male, according to the Fairfax County Times. The student and his mother notified the school at the beginning of his sophomore year that he was transgender, and Grimm was allowed to use the boys’ restroom for several weeks. After receiving multiple complaints from parents, the school board ruled that Grimm would have to use the restroom that correlated with his biologic gender. School officials said the transgender restroom policy respected everyone’s privacy.
Before the ruling was issued, Robert Rigby, the founder and president of the FCPS pride, said, “[If Gavin wins the preliminary injunction,] it will be the first time a federal court says that trans kids can use the right bathroom. It will have a striking national impact, and…it won’t just be big news. Other courts, other people, other kids and other states will be able to refer to this case.”
A person who is transgender does not identify with their biological gender, also known as gender dysphoria. Grimm said he started wearing boys’ clothes when he was 6 and told his parents when he was 14 that he was transgender. His parents helped him change his name legally. He takes hormone treatments, which will make him appear more masculine and will deepen his voice.
Another student in Fairfax middle school is a transgender girl. Her mother says that she is using a utility closet to change out for gym. The gender neutral bathroom is too far to be practical.
“My kid, she’s the first trans person at the middle school that she’s at, so they’re learning. Are there ways they could make it better? Yes, but they’re really working hard to try.”
The mother said they haven’t had any real problems other than it took several weeks for the school to decide whether to use the student’s old name or new name on her school records.
John Torre, the public information officer for Fairfax County Public Schools, released an email that said, “Many state and federal court cases are currently underway or in-process regarding this topic. FCPS is monitoring these cases and continues to evaluate the impact they may have on any potential FCPS regulations and procedures.”
There is an underlying fear that transgender persons will harass persons of the opposite sex if allowed to use the restroom with which they identify.
Rev. Emma Chattin, a pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia and executive director of the Transgender Education Association of Greater Washington D.C., said, “In terms of any assault occurring in a bathroom or any other area, it is the trans individuals who are the victim. These are the kids who are at-risk, and it pains me to see individuals turn it around.”
“It’s like turning a battleship around, but I think…Fairfax is on the right track,” Rigby said. “A lot of the changing hearts and minds of other students and faculty has come from the kids themselves.”
The transgender restroom policy ruling affects every state in the 4th district, which includes Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
How do you feel about transgender persons using a restroom that is not of their biological gender? Are you comfortable with the court ruling on the transgender restroom policy for schools? Should single-stall restrooms be mandatory for public places?
[Photo by Emery P. Dalesio/AP Images]