LGBTQ advocates and allies are raising money to help transgender trailblazer Gavin Grimm remain housed after a health crisis that left him unable to work.
Grimm, whose name has become synonymous with transgender rights rose to prominence after he sued his local Virginia school district for barring him from the boys’ restroom due to his gender identity. The case slowly worked its way through the court system for years, with a federal appeals court eventually ruling in his favor, finding he was discriminated against on the basis of sex, in violation of his rights under both Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court later refused to hear Grimm’s case, allowing the appeals court’s decision to stand. The Gloucester County School Board subsequently settled the lawsuit for $1.3 million, with the money going to cover attorneys’ fees and other legal costs that Grimm incurred in bringing the lawsuit.
In May, Grimm, who has been diagnosed with epilepsy, experienced three grand mal seizures, which caused him to lose consciousness and left him on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma for five days. Although he his health status has since improved, he remains unable to work or drive a vehicle, and now faces potential eviction and homelessness as he attempts to recuperate.
Supporters of Grimm have launched a GoFundMe page to help Grimm remain housed.
“Sadly, much of the news media coverage of the result of Gavin’s case mistakenly implied he would receive a large settlement payment. Nothing could be further from the truth; all of these funds went to legal fees, not to Gavin,” Vanessa Ford, one of the organizers of the fundraiser, wrote. “Gavin needs our help now. There are so many needs in the world, but among them is a young man who has done so much for so many others and deserves the dignity and safety of housing security.”
Ford noted that Grimm is aware of the fundraiser, and has been in regular communication with her family. She also said the funds raised will specifically go to cover housing and living expenses for the next year. As of Wednesday, the page has raised more than $44,000.
The money from the GoFundMe will be placed in a trust, managed by an executor named by Grimm, who will help pay for Grimm’s expenses. By placing the money in a trust managed by someone else, Grimm will be allowed to keep his disability benefits, which ensure Grimm can maintain his health care coverage, receive medical transportation, and meet with case workers who can assist him with his needs.
“On disability, I do not make enough money, even if I used my entire check, to rent an apartment almost anywhere in the entire country,” Grimm told Metro Weekly in an interview. “On top of that, you have to prove that you make three times the income for a rental place. You have to have a cosigner, unless you have decent credit. People in my position usually don’t. You know, there’s just obstacle after obstacle. I’ve been on the housing waiting list for months. I also have other accessibility challenges. I cannot drive because of my medical issues, and I have to live somewhere that is walking distance from basic needs so that I can actually take care of myself instead of relying basically full time on assistance from other people.”
Grimm says he’s hoping the money raised by others can help pay for a year of rent and other expenses so he can take control of his health without stressing about finances, in the hope of one day resuming his regular activities, including eventually returning to school and work. He is grateful to all those who have donated to the GoFundMe.
“The support from the community has been incredible, has been so valuable to me, not necessarily just money-wise, but in reminding me that there is a community of people out there who see the value in the work that I’ve done,” Grimm says. “It’s hard for me to look at what I’ve done and feel confident in saying, ‘Yes, I’ve done important, good things in my community and I’m a valued member of that community.’
“And so to see this tangible example of people who have been positively impacted by the legacy I’ve left in this world, and who feel so strongly about it that they feel like supporting me is something they can or want to do, is very powerful,” he adds. “It makes me feel very connected to community, and it’s given me a hope that I have not had for the entirety of 2021.”
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