On Monday, the Supreme Court made a decision to send a pivotal case that would give trans people the right to use bathrooms corresponding with their identity down to the lower courts.
In layman’s terms: They will not try the case and no decision on transgender rights from a federal level will be made in at least another year.
The case was brought to the federal judicial system by a 17-year-old Virginia boy named Gavin Grimm.
His story, like so many others, is one of daily struggle and shame for living his life in the gender he identifies with, despite being born as a girl. So it made sense when Laverne Cox, trans actress and activist, plugged Grimm’s case at the Grammys.
“Over 30 percent of trans people report not eating or drinking so they can avoid going to public bathrooms,” Cox said in an essay penned for InStyle. “Sixty-percent of us have avoided using a public restroom out of fear of being harassed or assaulted. Even when I’m in liberal cities like L.A. or New York, I would rather not use public bathrooms. But if you leave your house, you have no choice.”
Under the Obama administration it was found illegal to stop trans people from using the bathroom of their choice because of 1972’s Title IX law that bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools that receive federal money.
The Department of Education agreed noting “[schools] generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”
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But as The New York Times notes, then came along President Donald Trump, who within his first month in office, reversed the decision saying it had been formulated without “due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
Cox and other trans activist have made clear that this case is so much bigger than rest rooms. It’s one step forward in creating policy that recognizes and respects trans people’s civil rights.
“The Obama-era guidelines also included pronoun and name preferences for these young people as well,” she says.
“These are important components of how trans kids should be treated in school, but all that is lost when we sensationalize this issue. It’s not about bathrooms. It’s about the humanity of trans people, about us having the right to exist in a public space.”
Grimm’s case, like many others around the country, will now go back to the state who will be tasked to answer whether Title IX protects the rights him and other transgender students.
You can read Cox’s full letter here.