As we have seen during the past few years, persons like Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono and Caitlyn Jenner (to name a few), as well as the rise of certain televisions shows and news reports, have brought greater visibility of transgender people to the larger world. Yet, even with people and trans topics appearing in the media on a regular basic, many persons remain woefully unfamiliar with trans people. This is especially true in situations when fear and a veritable ignorance of "the other" mix to form a toxic brew that denies transgender and gender non-conforming people basic rights.
Gavin Grimm is a sixteen year old high school student from Virginia. In many ways, Gavin is typical of any teenage boy. He lived his life quietly and played by the rules. But a small group of parents and religious groups were determined to change Gavin's life in ways deleterious to his well being, by outing him to the county's officials. Gavin Grimm—a trans male—is waging the fight of his life to use public restrooms that match his gender identity.
Gavin is vulnerable to many of the pressures any other youth faces. Anyone with even a passing interest in young people knows teen years are a time when youth put tremendous pressure on their cohort to conform. The several years that comprise the teen phase of development is when cliques make outsiders the object of ridicule in regards to any attribute that they deem undesirable. Moreover some teens tend to live in the moment and, by definition, can be impulsive (whether for harmless stunts or for life-suppressing activities).
Trans kids are not immune to these hazards. However, they face additional levels of ostracism and physical assault due to their gender identity or expression. They are being adversely affected by numerous public entities, which have waged sustained legal and media attacks on transgender people (of all ages). In recent months lawmakers in Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Arizona and several other states introduced bills that would have compelled everyone to use the restroom matching the original gender marker (assigned-gender-at-birth status) on their birth certificate. Whether for schools or for other public facilities, writers and proponents of such measures formulated a two-part argument: the need to protect the privacy of women [read, cis-gender] and to safeguard women in public restrooms from sexual assault by "men dressed as women".