Open Letter to Gavin Grimm
Gavin Grimm is an American hero. On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court sent Gavin Grimm’s case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A senior at Gloucester High School in Virginia, Gavin is a plaintiff in a ACLU federal lawsuit fighting for his right to use the appropriate restroom and facilities as his public school.
By Ivy Gibson-Hill, LGBTQ Rights Toolkit Coordinator, Campaign for Southern Equality
I know you’re facing a lot of uncertainty right now with the rapidly changing legal landscape in our country. Having your identity called into question in such a public way must be scary, and at times painful.
I want you to know that I see you. I hear you. And I appreciate you. You are standing up for not only yourself, but also for the 355,600 transgender youth and young adults in our country. I was one of these young adults not too long ago, and I wish I had someone like you to look to when I was your age. I’m continually amazed by your grace and your ability to walk through this treacherous process with your head held high.
There’s another reason I’m writing you today though, I want you to know your identity is valid no matter what the courts say. You are a brilliant, bold, articulate, and incredibly resilient young man.
My job involves traveling across the South helping lead free clinics to connect transgender and LGBQ people with the direct services they need to live full and healthy lives. From Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I’ve met young trans folks whose rights you are fighting for. You are their hero, just as you are mine.
Taking this stand is about so much more than people having access to the right restroom. It’s about protecting students from bullying and harassment, having access to public accommodations, and respecting people’s identities. This is a safety issue for transgender and gender nonconforming students across our country, and you are leading the charge.
There is an epidemic in our country that is rooted in fear, and has already taken eight transgender women of color from us so far in 2017. Your willingness to stand up and speak out is helping folks see us as who we are – human beings who deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as any other human being.
Gavin, thank you for speaking for those who have been unheard and those who are unable to speak up for themselves. You are empowering trans students by showing them that there is another option. We don’t have to remain silent and submit to oppressive policies. We can and must use our voices and stand up for each other now more than ever.
Lastly, I want to make sure you know you’re not alone. I know being a trans person in Virginia can feel just as lonely as being a trans person in South Carolina. But there’s a great big family across the South that loves you, and appreciates you.
So, thank you so much for your honesty, your bravery, and for sharing your story. We have your back. Always.
With love and gratitude,
p.s. You’re invited to Camp Gender Bender this summer. This big trans family would love to meet their hero in person.