A federal court in Virginia ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen who's been fighting for the right to use the school bathroom that aligns with his gender identity.

The first time Gavin Grimm was on this program, he was a high school junior. He's transgender. And he sued the school board after they prohibited him from using the boy's restroom at his public school in Gloucester, Va.

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GAVIN GRIMM: I'm not unisex. The alternative facility was a unisex bathroom. I'm not unisex. I'm a boy. And there's no need for that kind of ostracization.

SHAPIRO: Gavin's case has spent four years in the courts. And in the meantime, he graduated from high school and became a nationally recognized LGBT figure. This week, a federal judge in Virginia ruled in his favor, saying the school board discriminated against Grimm on the basis of sex.

Gavin Grimm, welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

GRIMM: Thank you very much. I'm happy to be here.

SHAPIRO: How did it feel to get this ruling?

GRIMM: It was, of course, exciting. We had known for a while that it could come any day now. But I didn't have any expectations for what we might hear. And so to get positive news was just really fantastic.

SHAPIRO: Any word on whether the school board intends to appeal?

GRIMM: I don't know whether or not the school board intends to appeal. But we'll keep fighting if we have to.

SHAPIRO: The judge has ordered you and the school board to have settlement talks. You're no longer a student at the school. So what are you fighting for in this case?

GRIMM: The court case graduated from being about my interests almost as soon as it started. I hope that this will set a positive legal precedent that will aid other trans students in guiding their schools to better support them.

SHAPIRO: Gloucester, Va., where you grew up, is a relatively rural, relatively conservative part of the state. Do you think this case changed things in Gloucester even before this ruling, just by having the debate?

GRIMM: I don't know if I changed many hearts or minds in Gloucester. But the fact that I even was able to have a court case speaks volumes to the progress we have made in this nation. And the fact that we can have this discourse, the fact that we can have this debate - no matter how ugly it can be - speaks to the change that's coming.

SHAPIRO: You brought this case when Barack Obama was president. And now President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, says the Education Department will no longer investigate civil rights complaints from transgender students regarding bathroom access. Yesterday, she testified to the House Education and Workforce Committee, and she said courts have given conflicting rulings. Here's part of her testimony.

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BETSY DEVOS: Until the Supreme Court opines or until this body takes action, I am not going to make up law from the Department of Education.

SHAPIRO: Gavin Grimm, what do you think this means for a student like you who is a few years younger, coming through high school now?

GRIMM: I think that there is no ambiguity to the fact that this is explicitly dangerous to the lives of trans students. Saying that you will not investigate claims about discrimination is saying that you don't care about them, you don't think that they deserve to be protected and that you don't recognize, as well, their unique concerns and challenges in the school environment.

SHAPIRO: Explain what you mean when you say this is explicitly dangerous. What specifically is the danger?

GRIMM: It's explicitly dangerous to not protect trans youth in schools because they are an incredibly vulnerable minority. The suicide attempt rates are astronomically higher than the general population. And to feel completely alone and without options and to feel that helpless and unheard - I can't even imagine what detrimental effect that that can have on the ability for trans youth in schools to feel safe.

SHAPIRO: Tell us about your next step. I know you took some time off after you graduated from high school. You've moved to the West Coast. And you're going to start college in the fall?

GRIMM: Yes, I am working in the world of activism. I've been traveling to get my message out. And I'm also, at the same time, preparing to become a student again.

SHAPIRO: Well, Gavin Grimm, good luck in your next adventure in college. Thanks for talking to us again.

GRIMM: Of course. Thank you so much.

SHAPIRO: Gavin Grimm is a transgender teen who sued his school board for the right to use the boy's restroom. And yesterday, a federal judge ruled in his favor.

A new survey finds significant anxiety and fear among teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

The survey findings, released Tuesday, are based on the answers of roughly 12,000 youth ages 13 to 17 who responded to an online solicitation by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and other advocacy groups. Researchers say they reveal the depth of challenges that LGBTQ teens face.

At home, at school, in social circles and communities, these teens are experiencing high levels of anxiety, feelings of rejection and fears for their safety, according to a report on the survey findings.

“Despite the change in social attitudes, they’re still struggling,” said Ryan Watson, an assistant professor in human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut who is one of the researchers. “We still see alarming disparities and experiences, disheartening mental health problems and self-esteem issues.”

The report notes that nearly three-quarters of the teens responding to the survey said they have been threatened verbally because of their sexual identity. Ninety-five percent reported having trouble sleeping.

Problems associated with being transgender were particularly pernicious. About half of transgender teens surveyed said they were unable to use school restrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identity, with most of this group citing safety as the reason.

Yet teens generally shared similar concerns about school overall: Just 26 percent of those surveyed said they felt safe in their classroom.

The report comes at a particularly challenging time for LGBTQ individuals, with the Trump administration scaling back protections across several federal agencies. The Justice Department announced last July that civil rights laws do not include workplace protection against sexual orientation discrimination for lesbian and gay individuals. The Department of Education has reversed an Obama-era directive mandating schools protect and accommodate transgender students.

“Anecdotally, we have seen the Trump decision to rescind critical guidance [for schools] has caused fear and worry for transgender students and their families,” said Rebecca Kling, education program director at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “We’ve seen many cases where schools feel like they can roll back protections.”

These changes are particularly disappointing, say gay and transgender activists, because as a candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly expressed support for the LGBTQ community, once tweeting, “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

The survey, conducted online between April and December 2017 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the University of Connecticut, asked about behavioral health, peer relationships, exercise and fitness, participation in sports, tobacco use and other elements of the teens’ lives.

“We wanted to know about a range of things, everyday lived experience, not isolating one aspect,” said Ellen Kahn, the foundation’s director of the Children, Youth and Families program.

To solicit subjects, the researchers advertised for LGBTQ teens on social media - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Among the advocacy and nonprofit groups that helped publicize the survey were Planned Parenthood and the Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth. The gay activist Tyler Oakley, whose videos on YouTube have reached more than 650 million people, also took part in spreading the word about the survey.

The results cannot be considered representative nationally because participants were not selected through a random sampling method.

Of the LGBTQ teens responding, 77 percent said they felt down or depressed in the prior week. Of those LGBTQ teens whose families did not know of their sexual orientation, 78 percent said they heard negative comments from their families.

Comments included in the report reflect their worries:

- “I’m not out to my parents for safety reasons.”

- “At school I have been bullied and called slurs by other students.”

- “My town is very tiny, racist, and homophobic. I don’t trust anyone to talk about LGBTQ issues.”

Ma’ayan Anafi, policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she was not surprised by the results of the survey.

“It’s consistent with what we’ve seen,” Anafi said. “Trans students face immense harassment and discrimination.”

One of the biggest surprises to researchers was the obvious interest in the survey by so many LGBTQ teens.

“It shows that youth are really excited about being asked about their experiences,” Watson said. “They care about being heard.

Conservative estimates show transgender people, those whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth, make up two per cent of the US population. Transgender people must overcome many practical barriers to access healthcare, such as discrimination or prohibitive costs. Locating specific healthcare providers who are transgender-inclusive in their practice is also a stumbling block. Many such patients never reveal their gender identities to their doctors. As transgender identities are not typically recognized within the sphere of public health research, it has been difficult to compare their health status to that of the overall population.

"The lack of inclusion at both the population and healthcare system level systematically erases transgender individuals from the healthcare discourse," Christian says.

In an effort to address these challenges, the Colorado Transgender Health Survey was conducted in 2014. This online tool was developed by advocates and members of the transgender community and is based on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Potential participants in the survey were recruited at transgender inclusive events and through specific organizations. In all, 406 transgender or gender nonconforming adults responded. Their health was compared with the general population of Colorado, using data from the 2014 BRFSS.

The researchers found that two in every five transgender respondents (40 per cent) delayed seeking medical care because of money issues, inadequate insurance or because they feared being discriminated against. Around 43 per cent reported suffering from depression, while 36 per cent had suicidal thoughts. One in every ten respondents had tried to commit suicide sometime during the course of the previous year.

"Our study highlighted the mental health of transgender people as a key priority, and that additional research to determine effective interventions is crucial," says Christian.

On the positive side, the researchers found that there were definite benefits in having a transgender-inclusive health provider. Such providers greatly increased the chances that patients received wellness examinations and made them less hesitant to seek medical treatment because of the fear of discrimination. They were also less depressed and less likely to attempt suicide than patients who did not have access to a transgender-inclusive provider.

"Having a transgender-inclusive provider is associated with improved mental and physical health and health behaviors," says Christian, who believes that further population level research and provider education on transgender health should be incorporated into national efforts to eliminate health disparities.

WASHINGTON — Justice Department divisions are seeking to roll back policies that offer protections for gay and transgender people, amid a broader push by the Trump administration to reverse such rules.

The Bureau of Prisons will now use an inmate’s biological sex to initially determine where that person will be housed and which bathroom the person will use, according to a policy change to the bureau’s Transgender Offender Manual released Friday.

The revised manual says assigning an inmate to a prison facility based on the person’s identified gender is appropriate “only in rare cases.”

The move comes after several women at a prison in Texas filed a federal lawsuit, saying that sharing quarters with transgender women had endangered them. The Justice Department said over the summer that it would evaluate the case, as well as the bureau’s policies. The change was first reported by BuzzFeed.

The statistics arm of the Justice Department, for its part, has proposed that it no longer collect information about sexual orientation and gender identity from teenagers who take part in the National Crime Victimization Survey, which seeks to determine the frequency, characteristics and consequences of crimes.

Critics say the changes reflect a larger effort to reduce rights for gay, lesbian and transgender citizens, including in the military and in public schools.

"This administration seems to be using every opportunity to roll back progress for L.G.B.T.Q. and transgender people, even against the grain of where the American public is, and is headed, on these issues,” said Vanita Gupta, the chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

The Bureau of Prisons emphasized that the revision to its manual addressed safety concerns.

It balanced the “safety needs of transgender inmates as well as other inmates, including those with histories of trauma and privacy concerns, on a case-by-case basis,” Nancy Ayers, a spokeswoman for the bureau, said in a statement.

Regarding the proposed change to the victim survey, a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. However, a number of Democratic lawmakers said that no longer gathering that information would erase gay, lesbian and transgender Americans from federal statistics.

“We are deeply concerned that the proposed elimination of important data collection about the victimization of L.G.B.T. teens is being driven by motives that are not based on any legitimate rationale,” 55 congressional Democrats said in a letter on Friday to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, one of the signatories, said that information was “of great interest to policymakers and the public.”

“Federal studies have shown that young L.G.B.T. individuals face higher rates of criminal victimization than their straight, heterosexual peers, including higher rates of being bullied, physically attacked and threatened with weapons in schools,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement.

The moves at the Justice Department follow the new limits on transgender troops in the military, announced in March, that disqualify transgender people from serving, though exceptions can be made.

It also allows transgender troops currently in the military to remain in the ranks, but the Pentagon could force them to serve according to their gender at birth.

The policy adopted recommendations from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and came after court rulings delayed an earlier ban on transgender troops.

Mr. Mattis said at the time that the new policies would help the Defense Department “ensure the survival and success of our service members around the world.”

 

Carla Patricia Flores-Pavon, a trans woman who was 18, was killed in her North Dallas apartment on Wednesday, May 9. [On one of Ms. Flores-Pavon’s Facebook profile, she spelled her first name with a “K.” Reports filed by police spelled it with a “C.”

Police were dispatched to the scene at 4:17 p.m. and confirmed “suspect choked complainant causing her death” and listed the death as a murder.

Flores-Pavon lived in an apartment along LBJ Freeway near Preston Road. Dallas Fire Rescue arrived first and requested police when they found Flores-Pavon dead.

Dallas Voice has contacted police and will report more information when it’s released.

Ms. Flores-Pavon is the ninth trans woman known to have been murdered so far in 2018 in this country.

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