Supreme Court Sends Transgender Bathroom Case Back to Appeals Court

The move comes after Trump removed an Obama-era guidance allowing students to use the restroom that aligned with their expressed gender, rather than biological sex.

by Brian Moylan
Mar 6 2017, 5:45pm

Gavin Grimm, left, photographed with his mom, Deirdre Grimm. Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images

On Monday, the Supreme Court canceled a planned hearing on the case of Gavin Grimm, the trans student fighting to use the boys' bathroom at his high school in Virginia, the New York Times reports. The court has sent Grimm's case back to a lower appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, to reassess.

This move comes after the Trump administration revoked an Obama-era guidance allowing public school students to use the restroom that aligned with their expressed gender, rather than their biological sex. Because the lower court already ruled in Grimm's favor based on that guidance, which is now gone, the Supreme Court decided that the merits of the case need to be adjudicated on their own.

Grimm's attorneys argue that the 1972 Title IX amendment should apply to Grimm, because the law states that "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." The arguments for and against Grimm's case were set to begin on March 28, and attorneys for both sides wanted the case to continue in the Supreme Court. 

Grimm initially had won a petition to use his preferred bathroom after being blocked by the Gloucester County school board, but the Supreme Court put it on hold before the semester began. He also has the support of 196 members of Congress, attorneys general from 18 states, and 53 major businesses, including tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft, which have filed briefs stating their position on the case. Grimm, who is a senior this year, will probably graduate before his case is resolved. 

Not surprisingly, the Trump rollback of rights for trans teens has been wildly unpopular within the transgender community. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have condemned the move and see Trump's decision as only leading to more violence, bullying, and suicide for an already marginalized group.

The Grimm case would have been the first time the Supreme Court ruled on a trans rights issue and the decision would have had much wider implications for trans Americans outside of where they go to the bathroom in public spaces. Similar cases to Grimm's have been filed throughout the country, so other appellate courts will soon have to weigh in on whether anti-discrimination gender statutes apply to trans students.

LGBT rights
supreme court
gavin grimm
Title IX
executive order