Who is Gavin Grimm and Why Does Laverne Cox Want You to Google Him?

Feb 2017

Laverne Cox was only onstage at the Grammys for a few seconds, but she used her platform to give the world a homework assignment. Before introducing a performance from Lady Gaga and Metallica, Cox told audiences, “Google Gavin Grimm. He’s going to the Supreme Court in March. #StandWithGavin.”

Who is Gavin Grimm?

Well, he’s a high school senior from Gloucester, Virginia. He’s transgender. And he’s at the center of a court case that could change the lives of transgender Americans for years to come.

Back in 2014, Gavin’s parents informed the school of his gender: male. At first, the school recognized his gender, giving him permission to use the boys’ restroom – which he did for almost two months without incident. However, after receiving complaints from local residents, the school board voted to bar Gavin from using the boy’s restroom, requiring him to instead use a separate unisex restroom. With help from the ACLU, Gavin’s family sued the Gloucester County School Board, arguing that the policy violated Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools.

After a series of legal ups and downs, Gavin’s case received new life in the summer of 2015 when the Obama administration ordered that schools must allow transgender students to use restrooms that match their gender. A federal judge ordered the school to allow Gavin to use the boy’s room – but the decision was appealed to the Supreme Court.

What happens next?

Gavin’s case will be argued at the Supreme Court on March 28. Should the court take the case, their decision could play a huge role in determining the scope of legal protections for transgender people across the country. While the case is referred to as a “bathroom issue,” it’s much bigger than that. “If transgender people are not protected under the law, if we cannot safely go to restrooms that match who we are, then we cannot have jobs, we cannot go to school, we cannot participate in public life,” said Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, “That is what is at stake.” It’s a case that could give transgender folks the same protections afforded to everyone else – or it could authorize legally sanctioned discrimination for decades.

Gavin Grimm
Damon Winter/The New York Times

“A model of bravery.”

So, after years of legal battles and a Grammy shout-out from one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, how is Gavin handling it all?

“[Laverne Cox is] just a beautiful person inside and out. I was really touched and thrilled and honored that that was the first thing out of her mouth,” Gavin told the Washington Post, “At this point that’s the role I occupy and I want to make sure I’m using that platform for positive. I definitely didn’t set out at the beginning wanting to or expecting to [be] shouted at the Grammys.”

“Gavin is a model of bravery,” Strangio said, “And [he] will be remembered as a hero in the fight for justice for trans people.” No matter what the Supreme Court decides, that much is true. Gavin is already a hero.

Do you #StandWithGavin? Add your voice to the thousands calling for justice for transgender Americans.

Sources: ACLU, Billboard, Mashable, NBC News, The New York Times