Metro Weekly

Supreme Court reprimands anti-trans groups for misgendering Gavin Grimm

Groups' use of female pronouns appear to signal animus toward transgender people

Gavin Grimm and legal team - Photo: via ACLUVA.org

Gavin Grimm and legal team – Photo: ACLU of Virginia.

The Supreme Court reprimanded anti-LGBTQ groups that had submitted amicus briefs supporting the Gloucester County School Board as they attempt to defend their policy barring transgender students from using facilities that do not match their biological sex at birth.

Scott Harris, the clerk of the Supreme Court, sent a letter to the right-wing legal organization Liberty Counsel, which filed one amicus brief, and the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, which filed two others in conjunction with the National Organization for Marriage, asking the court to side with the school board in their dispute with transgender student Gavin Grimm. In the briefs, the organizations had deliberately misgendered Grimm as female. All three groups have held the position that there are only two genders, and both are determined by a person’s biological sex.

“It has come to the attention of our office that the covers of your amicus briefs int his case identify the respondent as ‘G.G., by her Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm.’ In fact, the caption for the case in this Court, as in the lower courts, identifies the respondent as ‘G.G., by his Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm,'” Harris writes in his letters. “Under Rule 34, your cover is to reflect the caption of the case. Please ensure careful compliance with this requirement in this and other cases in the future.”

According to Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern, Liberty Counsel confirmed that they had deliberately misgendered Grimm, telling him it had used the female pronoun “her” because “Gavin Grimm is a biological girl who now says she subjectively ‘identifies’ as a ‘boy.'”

Stern also claims that the reprimand will “effectively disqualify these amicus briefs from serious consideration,” adding that the briefs “clearly reflect the kind of animus that moved the school board to bar Grimm from the correct bathroom in the first place.”

Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board after it changed its policy to bar him from using the boys’ restroom at school, even though her had previously used it without incident for almost two months prior to the change. Grimm claims the school board is violating both his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and under Title IX, a federal statute intended to protect people from sex-based discrimination. 

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on Mar. 28. It must then decide whether to uphold or overturn a ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found that Grimm had a right to sue the board for discriminating against him in violation of Title IX’s protections.

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

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