In the wake of the Supreme Court’s disappointing punting of the Gavin Grimm case, trans icon Laverne Cox has written a powerful open letter in In Style magazine, sharing what the SCOTUS fight means to her, and her own continued anxieties with using public restrooms.
Last week, I visited the MSNBC studios in Los Angeles to stand up for Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old high school senior who has sued the Gloucester County School Board because he wants the same right as all his other male classmates: to be able use the boys’ bathroom.
Before going on camera, I asked: “Where’s the ladies’ room?” The second after I said it, I thought: Oh, my god. Is everybody looking at me? Will they watch to see which restroom I go in? Everyone knows that I’m trans. I was there to talk about Gavin’s story and the legislation that criminalizes transgender people for using the bathroom of their gender identity. And yet, even I have anxiety about using a public restroom.
That’s the truth: I’m a famous actress and I still have that fear. Is somebody going to stop me and ask for my ID? It’s happened before. I was on a date a few years ago in New York City, waiting for a guy at the bar, and I went to the ladies room and the security guy asked to see my ID. But what would he have seen? All of my documentation has been changed. I’m a woman. I’m legally female. And yet, it would be illegal for me to use the women’s room in North Carolina. These laws, like the HB2 law, stigmatize trans people and criminalize a population that’s already criminalized….
But don’t be fooled: These bathroom laws aren’t really about bathrooms. When the current administration rescinded the guidelines for how transgender students should be treated in schools, they made it all about bathrooms. But the Obama-era guidelines also included pronoun and name preferences for these young people as well. 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….
The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to send Gavin’s case back to the lower courts, while disappointing, is an opportunity to further highlight the humanity of trans youth. Let this be a wake-up call to all Americans that trans people and trans youth are under attack in this country and that we must all stand with trans folks. It is time for the appeals court date to weigh in. As we have this fight, this debate, we must continue to elevate the voices and lived experiences of actual trans people. Trans people cannot be left out of conversations about our own dignity and humanity.
Continue reading here. (Top photo: Pacific Coast News)