In a sudden last-minute decision, on March 6 the U.S. Supreme Court chose to not hear G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, the case of 17-year-old Virginia trans student Gavin Grimm, who was barred from using the men’s restroom at his school. The case, which was slated to be heard on March 28, would have been a landmark one interpreting existing laws as they pertain to the rights of trans students and bathroom access as a whole. SCOTUS vacated and remanded the case back to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The SCOTUS decision comes on the heels of Donald Trump’s recent removal of the federal guidelines that clarified that Title IX protects trans students. The case is now to be considered further in light of the Trump administration’s new anti-trans guidance.
Grimm’s case would have been the first case on trans rights the Supreme Court had ever heard. There are multiple other cases on trans rights that are waiting to be heard by SCOTUS, including a challenge to the discriminatory HB2 law in North Carolina.
Gavin Grimm’s ACLU-led legal team remains hopeful that this is just a detour in the process of getting justice for trans students. The 4th Circuit court had originally sided with Grimm on the basis of the pro-trans federal Title IX guidelines issued in May, but a right-wing hate group called “Concerned Women for America,” siding with the transphobic school board, had filed a request for a stay from the Supreme Court.
In remanding the decision back to the 4th Circuit, the Supreme Court requires that the lower court hear the case again in light of the lack of favorable federal guidelines. While there is still a chance that the 4th Circuit may rule in Grimm’s favor, it is highly unlikely in light of the guideline withdrawal, and the Supreme Court’s rejection of the case overall bodes ill for trans rights nationally. If the case is heard again in the Supreme Court at a later point, the chances of a just outcome will be far lower with Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, a reactionary with a terrible record of favoring religious bigotry, on the bench.
Joshua Block, Gavin’s lawyer and the senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT Project, says: “Nothing about today’s action changes the meaning of the law. While we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin’s case this term, the overwhelming support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored.”
Mobilize for trans rights now!
All revolutionary and progressive people should stand in full solidarity with Gavin Grimm and trans youth and adults everywhere. We must denounce the Supreme Court’s cowardice in rejecting this important case at a time when trans people are under attack in courthouses, in the streets and in schools across the country.
Trans rights organizer and journalist Chardonnay Merlot, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, who is currently spearheading a Connecticut call to action for Gavin Grimm, noted that the Grimm case rejection aptly comes on the anniversary of the hateful Dred Scott v. Sanford ruling, and issued the following statement:
“Today’s action, in concert with a number of decisions made by the Trump regime, continues to affirm that if you aren’t the skin tone they prefer, if you don’t pray the way they do, if your orientation or identity are not the ways they are comfortable, then you truly have no rights by which they are bound to respect you.
“Now for some, there may be a dismissal based on the idea that ‘this doesn’t affect me’. All of the American working class must know — this is your fight. This is your issue. This is your business.
“What we are seeing in regard to the recent trauma, be it attacks on transgender rights, the demonization of immigrants, the influence of white nationalists in the upper levels of the regime, and the sudden advancement of policies that will definitely have negative impacts on the working class show a connectivity, and a need for a common cause.
“The Trump regime is doing what the reactionary right has always done. They begin their assault on the working class by dividing the working class, beginning with the demonization of its most vulnerable.The Trump regime’s open attack on transgender rights and impact on the Supreme Court’s action today is an example of tactics that have been a part of the reactionary strategy for decades.
“However, we can STOP that cycle. We can draw the line here and now. We can do so, with direct action, in our streets. In our town halls. In our schools. In our offices. On our factory floors. We can begin as parents and educators by affirming that ALL children have a right to a safe environment to learn.
“We can continue as workers to push equal access, equal human rights, in our workplaces. We can continue to push to ensure that our streets, neighborhoods andpublic accommodations are safe for all.
“Transphobia is your fight, fellow worker, because transphobia… just as racism, sexism, homophobia, and all the tools of the reactionaries… divide working people against our common interests.”
It is abundantly clear that the Supreme Court, a reactionary institution that generally acts in the interests of the ruling class unless forced by the pressure of a mass movement, will not even venture to take a stand to protect the most vulnerable community in this country.
It is the duty of all progressive and revolutionary people to mobilize our communities to defend trans people and demand justice. Many state politicians have made statements claiming that they will retain protections for trans youth, but it is our job in each state to hold their feet to the fire and demand more protections. Furthermore, whether a given state has non-discrimination laws or not, transphobia must be smashed by the people in every school, workplace and neighborhood wherever it surfaces.
Trans youth and adults do not have time to wait for a “good decision” from legislators when their lives hang in the balance. We are mourning the deaths of eight trans people who have been murdered since the start of 2017, while and anti-trans legislation has emboldened bigots to launch more attacks on LGBTQ people. Justice, safety and equality for trans people are non-negotiable and must be fought for in the streets.
We urge all people to mobilize and take the street this month for trans rights. Actions are being called across the country to support Gavin Grimm and trans youth everywhere. Find or organize an action near you. It is imperative that all people show that we will not stand by while trans lives are under attack. There is too much at stake to trust in the system’s process — we must organize and fight back now.