The Supreme Court Will Not Hear Case About Transgender Bathroom Rights

What this ultimately means for trans people accross the country remains unclear.

By Eric Shorey

Gavin Grimm, a transgender student from Gloucester, Virginia, attempted to sue his school for the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity. The suit has been bounced around between courts for upwards of two years now, but it was just yesterday that the Supreme Court decided they will not hear the case. Issuing a one-sentence order on the subject, the potentially groundbreaking suit will now be returned to lower courts for a final decision.

Grimm's case began in 2014, long before Trump rescinded Obama's protections for transgender students. Since he began his fight, 14 states have introduced legislation that would make it illegal for him to use the men's room.

Grimm's fate now is in the hands of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, which must decide whether federal anti-discrimination laws like Title IX apply to transgender individuals in light of Trump's latest restrictions on the LGBTQ community. 

A few specific details are particularly notable about this case: Grimm already has obtained a birth certificate that identifies him as male. Despite a court order that allows him to use the bathroom that correlates to his identity, he has still been blocked by the Gloucester County school board.

The ACLU has released the following statement on the Supreme Court's abdication of responsibility in this issue: “Nothing about today’s action changes the meaning of the law. Title IX and the Constitution protect Gavin and other transgender students from discrimination," says ACLU’s LGBT Project and Grimm’s senior counsel Joshua Block. "While we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin’s case this term, the overwhelming level of support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored. This is a detour, not the end of the road, and we’ll continue to fight for Gavin and other transgender people to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The reluctance to take on the case may or may not be related to the lack of social consensus on trans issues and/or the current vacancy in the Supreme Court bench left from Antonin Scalia's death.

What the Supreme Court's move ultimately means for transgender rights accross the country remains unclear.

(But just as a reminder: despite Republican claims that trans people pose a threat to public safety, there exist no examples of trans people committing assaults in public restrooms.)

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

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