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Here’s What 101 Transgender Americans Need the Supreme Court to Know About Gavin Grimm’s Case


As part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s process, a citizen may submit an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief, to be considered as part of an ongoing case. Amicus briefs come from a person who is not directly involved in the case, but has a demonstrable interest in the outcome or deep expertise on the case’s subject matter. In the case of G.G. V. Gloucester County School Board, transgender student Gavin Grimm will argue for his right to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity, and 101 transgender Americans filed an amicus brief to support his rights and theirs.

“Amici [i.e. those who contributed to the brief] are everyday Americans with hopes, dreams, talents, successes and the desire to live a life fully realized,” reads the brief. “They seek basic freedom, respect and dignity so that they may continue to be positive participants in their communities…Amici urge this Court not to accept an interpretation of Title IX that would reduce them and all transgender individuals to secondclass citizens, but instead to promote the valuable contributions that transgender people make to American society.”

Apple, IBM, Amazon, and other 50 other companies also signed a brief supporting Grimm, but it’s best to let marginalized speak for themselves, so I encourage you to read the full brief from these ordinary trans citizens.  They share stories of their childhoods, communities, transitions, and careers. They make powerful arguments against bathroom restrictions and testify to the ways that acceptance has allowed them to contribute to their communities and live their lives to the fullest. I’m only including a few excerpts here, but the whole brief is worthwhile.

Speaking specifically about Gavin’s case, the amici emphasized the outsized impact that a school environment can have on a child’s success. They reiterated the importance of acceptance in ensuring their own success and emotional wealth-being.

“My experiences in schooling illuminated for me the crucial role that educational institutions play in shaping the personal development of young people and in shaping society as a whole. Schools can be places that tell young people there is something wrong with them, that they don’t exist or that the world is not equipped to admit their identities, experiences or bodies. Or schools can be places that affirm young people precisely because they bring something new to the world. They can be places that tell young people they have something distinct to contribute and, because of that, they are both valuable and valued.”
– Dr. Abram J. Lewis, 32, Professor, Illinois

“In my work in teacher education and professional development, I have mentored and taught more than 500 teachers, each of whom has gone on to careers where they impact hundreds of children. None of these successes would have been possible if I had not attended a high school where my gender was respected and supported. I have gone from being a depressed and disengaged student to becoming an accomplished and respected educator and the most educated person in my family. I believe that schools can be incredible, transformative places. When children are supported and cared for, they become more engaged and productive members of society. This has certainly been true for me.”
– Mr. Harper Keenan, 31, Teacher and Doctoral Candidate in Education, California

They also spoke powerfully about the vicious impact of bathroom restrictions.

“Bathroom restrictions are proxy battles for who is considered fully human. If you can’t use a
public facility safely, how can you be an active member of the community? How can you be a citizen if the message of your own government is that you don’t belong? And what are you without community or citizenship?”
– Ms. Jen Richards, 40, Writer, Actress and Producer

“Transitioning has meant freedom—freedom from the insecurity and anxiety of living in a way which did not align with who I am. To ask me—muscled, 175 lb., deep-voiced, hairy, broad shouldered me—to not use men’s facilities would be to take away my freedom. We can say that this is about bathrooms, but it is not; it is about participation. It is about showing up for life. It is about dignity. It is about whether or not I can go to work and feel safe, go to the gym, play on sports teams and do what I do day in and day out without feeling the pressing anxiety of uncertainty as to where I can relieve myself. It is about whether or not I can live the full and robust life that my family members, friends and colleagues can every single day.”
– Mr. Liam Cutler, 25, State Policy Specialist, New York

Others emphasized how important it is for trans kids to grow up seeing trans adults happy, healthy, and successful in public.

“I believe that my greatest contribution is being an example of dreams realized. Nothing I can say or teach will ever come close to having the same meaningful impact on a young person who is questioning their worth or holding fear for their future than the simple reality that I, as a transgender woman of color, have navigated my way through institutions and systems that were not designed to benefit me, and I have found success and unconditional love despite every obstacle.”
– Ms. Precious Brady-Davis, 31, Assistant Director of Diversity Recruitment, Illinois

Oral arguments in G.G. V. Gloucester County School Board will begin on March 28.

(Via Fusion; image via Flickr/Brian Turner)

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