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5 Things About Gavin Grimm, the Transgender Teen Who Laverne Cox Wants You to Know

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Gavin Grimm
Gavin Grimm
Danna Singer/ACLU

Transgender teen Gavin Grimm is on a mission to give all trans students the right to use the bathroom of their choice, something he was denied in high school.

Fellow transperson and actress Laverne Cox gave Grimm a shoutout at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, and with the case headed to the Supreme Court, here’s five things to know about the groundbreaking 17-year-old.

1. His high school let him use the men’s restroom at first — but then changed the rule

When Grimm went back to Gloucester High School after coming out in the summer of 2014, the principal initially approved his use of the men’s bathroom, but then suddenly changed course without explanation seven weeks later.

“Genuinely, there was not a single confrontation, not a single funny look, not a single double take. Nothing like that happened at any point while I was using the correct restroom,” Grimm told MSNBC. “Sure, there were peers who had concerns. But the loudest voices of opposition tended to come from adults in the county.”

RELATED VIDEO: Laverne Cox Talks About Gavin Grimm and What Everyone Should Do Right Now To Protect LGBTQ Rights

 

2. Instead of using the women’s bathroom, he holds his bladder all day long

“There’s a mild aspect of principle behind that motivation,” he said. “But the primary reason that I just would not use it is it causes me a lot of discomfort. It’s very ‘othering.’ It sort of puts a magnifying glass on my already existing conflicts with my gender identity and physical sex.”

3. His case started at a school board meeting before rising to the federal level

Grimm first tried to appeal to the Gloucester community at a school board meeting that November, but he was shot down by a vote of 6-1.

With the help of the ACLU, Grimm sued the school board in Virginia courts, but Judge Robert G. Doumar dismissed his claim that he was discriminated based on gender under Title IX. The Court of Appeals criticized Doumar’s ruling, and Grimm filed an appeal with the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

4. He temporarily won back the right to use the men’s bathroom — until the Supreme Court stepped in

The Fourth Circuit Court granted a preliminary injunction in Grimm’s favor by a vote of 2-1, but when the Supreme Court decided to take on his case, the ruling went right back on hold. Once again, Grimm was left without a bathroom to use.

“The thought of spending another school year not being able to use the correct bathroom and having my bathroom usage in the spotlight was not my favorite idea,” Grimm told PEOPLE. “It was kind of breathtaking. There was this moment of, ‘Oh my god, it’s going to dominate my senior year now too.’ I’ve gone through this my entire sophomore year, my entire junior year, and now it looks like it’ll take up my entire senior year too.”

But he’s thrilled that his case can potentially help trans people nationwide.

“That’s really important to me because after experiencing what I’ve experienced, my largest goal in this is that no kid, or at the very least less kids, will have to go through this experience,” he says.

RELATED VIDEO: Eddie Redmayne on Conversation Surrounding Trans Community: ‘It’s a Civil Rights Movement’

 

5. His case will be heard on March 28, perhaps with just eight members of the Supreme Court

After the Republican-led Congress refused to hold hearings on former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, they left it up to the next president to find a replacement for Antonin Scalia’s seat.

Donald Trump has proposed Neil Gorsuch for the position, but the timeline for the confirmation proceedings is uncertain.

Grimm talked to PEOPLE about the possible outcomes just nine days before the presidential election.

“Given that there’s a 4-4 split potential I don’t think the outcome is easy to gage for anyone at this point,” he says. “It might be possible that the seat won’t even be filled until after my case, but definitely, if we get a Trump appointee I’ll be very disappointed.”