Metro Weekly

Gavin Grimm named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017

Janet Mock calls Grimm the face of the debate about "trans people's right to exist in public spaces"

Gavin Grimm, Photo: Todd Franson

Virginia transgender teen Gavin Grimm has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017.

Grimm rose to prominence after he sued Gloucester County School Board for banning him from using the boys’ restroom at his high school.

Transgender activist and author Janet Mock authored a short profile on Grimm for the magazine. In that profile, she writes: “Gavin Grimm was 15 when he re­introduced himself to his classmates at Gloucester High School in Virginia as the boy he knew himself to be. As someone who also transitioned in high school, I know intimately how freeing and fraught it can be to live your truth.”

Mock calls Grimm “the cherubic face of a reductive, dirty debate about trans people’s right to exist in public spaces without hostility, harassment, and violence.” But she notes that Grimm’s lawsuit, and his fight to be recognized according to his gender identity, has implications that extend beyond Virginia and beyond simply whether transgender people can access public restroom facilities.

“It’s about a greater sense of belonging for us all — at school, at home and in our neighborhoods and places of work and worship. So many are made to feel as if they should hide, pretend or perish,” Mock writes. “Gavin’s refusal to be treated unjustly is an enduring reminder that we will not be stayed.”

“I’m totally blown away,” Grimm said of being named to the prestigious list, which is released annually. “It’s such a huge honor to be immortalized in such a venue of such high esteem.”

Grimm also said he was delighted to learn that Mock had written his profile.

“I think she’s an incredibly inspirational individual, and just a wonderful person and wonderful activist who’s in the community,” he said of Mock.

In a historic ruling last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that Grimm had the right to sue alleging his rights under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools, had been violated.

Grimm’s case was slated to go before the U.S. Supreme Court, but was sent back to lower courts after the Trump administration’s reversal of guidance that allowed transgender students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Nonetheless, his willingness to challenge his local school board and his bravery in the face of discrimination has made Grimm an icon within the transgender community.

 

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com