Earlier this month, the Supreme Court decided not take a very important case this term, the case involving Gavin Grimm and transgender rights. I wrote about this case last semester with optimism and hope, especially since it is so important to my life. I have friends who are transgender for whom this case was important, especially now with all the uncertainty people who are transgender face under the current administration. This case focused on Grimm’s right to use the men’s restroom, as that is the restroom matching his gender identity, at his school. Initially, his school allowed this, but later changed their policy, requiring students to use the bathroom matching their biological gender. Grimm sued, and the case made it’s way up to the Supreme Court, gathering support along the way. However, according to NBC, though the Court had originally decided to take the case, they remanded it to be reconsidered based on policy changes made at the federal level.
This set back in the fight for transgender rights is annoying and does not reflect well on the current administration. It is specially frustrating because the precedent is and has been strongly in favor of Grimm and the protection of transgender rights. People who are transgender have long had to fight for their right to exist in public spaces. They have been discriminated against even in traditionally accepting forums. They have been subjected to so much violence and persecution, which is why this case was so important. If the Supreme Court had ruled in Grimm’s favor, it would have been a strong statement by the federal government saying that kind of hate and discrimination will not be allowed in the United States, no matter the administration. By not taking the case, it is like the Supreme Court is saying maybe people who are transgender are protected only when the federal administration deems it fit. It risks all the progress made in the past eight years protecting transgender rights. Under President Obama, we saw our first transgender presidential appointments, protections against job discrimination, and the expansion of medicare to include reassignment surgery. This progress, this movement towards all of humanity truly being equal, is in danger. (See this article from the New York Times to look at more milestones for people who are transgender in the US.)
All is not lost, however. The case has been remanded, not dismissed. This means the Fourth Circuit will reexamine the case, and from there it could go back to the Supreme Court for consideration. We can only hope that when and if the case returns to the Supreme Court, they will make the right decision, extending freedom and protection to all American people, regardless of their gender.