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Judge Dismisses Central Argument in Transgender Student Restroom Dispute
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Gavin Grimm is fighting for his right to use the boys’ restroom at his high school. Grimm was born female, but identifies as male.

Summary: Gavin Grimm is fighting for his right to use the boys’ restroom at his high school. Grimm was born female, but identifies as male.

According to BuzzFeed News, on Monday, a federal judge threw out one of the key arguments in a case on behalf of a transgender student, Gavin Grimm, who has sued to use the boys restroom at a Virginia high school. U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar stated that being transgender is a “mental disorder” and that he is concerned for the privacy of students in restrooms.


Grimm is a student at Gloucester High School and has argued that he must be allowed to use the bathrooms that correspond with his gender identity under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972. Title IX bans discrimination based on one’s sex. The federal government has repeatedly said that Title IX also includes transgender discrimination under the umbrella of sex discrimination. According to The Guardian, Grimm’s case is being perceived as a civil rights movement for transgender equality.

Last year, a list of schools under investigation for Title IX violations was released.

However, Judge Doumar let the attorneys know quickly that he was not accepting the Title IX argument. Halfway through the hearing, he said, “Your case in Title IX is gone, by the way. I have chosen to dismiss Title IX. I decided that before we started.”

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The judge’s decision was surprising not only because it strays from recent trends on the issue, but also because an attorney from the Department of Justice had not yet been given a chance to argue on Grimm’s behalf on the Title IX issue.

The Justice Department field a statement of interest in Grimm’s case, arguing that he has a right to use the boys restroom due to Title IX protections. Additionally, the department provided a letter to the court from the Department of Education that laid out the same argument.

Judge Doumar noted that Title IX allows general segregating of single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms for male and female students. He argued that transgender students may be segregated based on their birth sex, and that birth sex is at issue in the Title IX litigation, not one’s chosen sex.

The judge remarked, “I have no problem with transgender. I have a lot of problems with sex. I am convinced he is a biological female who wants to be male.”

Grimm’s attorneys argued that the Supreme Court used sex and gender interchangeably.

Ireland allows individuals to easily change their genders.

However, the judge is allowing another argument to proceed—Grimm’s equal protection argument. The judge warned Grimm’s attorneys, “[Y]ou have an uphill battle.”

In December, the Gloucester County School Board passed a measure that restricted single-sex facilities to students with matching “biological genders.” The policy allegedly targeted Grimm, who was the only openly transgender student in the district. Three gender-neutral restrooms were also provided.

Later that month, Grimm filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, and filed a suit against the school board in June, arguing that the policy was harmful and stigmatizing.

At the hearing on Monday, two issues needed to be decided: whether the school board’s motion to dismiss the case should be granted, and whether Grimm’s request for an injunction that allows him to use the boys restroom in September should be granted.

Judge Doumar is unlikely to grant either motion, he said, because too many issues have not been settled in the school’s arguments to dismiss the entire matter. The judge also noted that he will probably let the case go forward to trial.

The judge noted that an injunction was unlikely, as he was not convinced that using the unisex restrooms, the nurse’s office restroom, or the girls restroom would require immediate intervention due to the stigma it would cause. “I don’t see irreparable harm,” Judge Doumar said, citing one of the factors that must be proven when issuing a preliminary injunction.

Joshua Block, an attorney with the ACLU who was arguing on behalf of Grimm, noted that Grimm tried to stop using the restroom at school because he was embarrassed to use the single-stall restrooms. This allegedly caused a urinary tract infection, and Judge Doumar asked several times whether holding one’s urine could be a medical cause of an infection.



David Corrigan argued on behalf of the school board that there were no constitutional or Title IX violations because gender-neutral bathrooms were available, as well as girls restrooms that represent Grimm’s birth sex. Therefore, Corrigan argued, Grimm “is not treated differently than other students.”

Those arguments relied on a Pennsylvania case in which a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a transgender student, ultimately holding that a transgender student may be banned from a restroom based upon one’s sex at birth.

Judge Doumar expressed concern about privacy and safety at the hearing as well, saying, “My biggest problem is with the remainder of the population and other children. I am concerned about the rights of privacy.”

According to the Daily Press, the judge also said, “I worry about precedence. If we cut out the (policy), does it mean anyone who genuinely believes they are of the opposite sex can use any restroom?”

On several occasions, the judge argued that being transgender was “a mental disorder.”

Cabela’s was accused of discriminating against a female transgender employee.

Block responded that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that gender dysphoria, the medical term for being transgender, is only an issue if individuals cannot live according to their gender identity. Judge Doumar retorted, “Where did you get your medical degree?”

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Block responded, “It is in the DSM.”

Dierdre Grimm, Gavin’s mother, said after the hearing, “Gavin is an amazing person. He knows what he wants, and being his mom is the best job I could have.”

Grimm stated, “I’m a boy. I’m not a girl. I am not unisex…I use the male restroom in every other public facility, and it has never been a problem for me.”

Judge Doumar is known for his outlandish statements in court. The 84-year-old judge once stated that people with HIV who have unprotected sex “should be shot.”

During Grimm’s hearing, Doumar interrupted the attorneys several times and noted his concerns about the state of the country. “Where the U.S. is going scares me. It really scares me,” he lamented.

The judge even demeaned the Department of Justice for enforcing marijuana prohibition in some states while allowing others to tax it and regulate it, as well as other concerns he had.

Doumar said, “I am sorry for the Department of Justice,” he said. “Sanctuary cities. Where are we going? … I get perplexed, very perplexed. I believe in the Constitution … I am worried about where we are going. Maybe I am just old fashioned.”

In closing, Doumar said, “Oh well, things are changing.”

Source: Buzzfeed News

Photo credit: ABC News, (Block)


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