A typical teen in the center of a national debate
Gavin Grimm is a bright, outgoing, articulate young man with a joyful smile and a disarming sense of humor.
The 17-year-old Gloucester High School senior lives the life of a typical teenager on the cusp of adulthood. He hangs out with his friends, plays Pokémon (the video game, not the faddish Pokémon Go), loves his cat Rascal and his pet pig Esmerelda, and really, really wants to get his driver’s license. He’s willing to go anyplace, anytime, enjoys meeting new people, and looks forward to the future.
But this was not always the case.
Born female, Gavin has negotiated the difficult road to becoming the person he always knew he was—a male—under the public eye. He is at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case that could determine whether members of the transgender community will be able to use bathrooms designed for the gender they are currently or whether they will be consigned to using bathrooms according to their birth gender. The case is due to be heard on March 28.
Growing up in Gloucester, Gavin had an upbringing that in many ways left him free to be the boy he truly was. He spent a lot of time outdoors, playing in the dirt, catching frogs, harassing snakes, playing army, traipsing through the woods with his brother. He loved bugs, and that’s the image his first lunchbox had on it.
“I got the blue dog and my brother got the pink dog,” he said. “I absorbed the social lessons my father gave my brother rather than the girl ones he tried to impose on me. I could just … be.”
But there were times when Gavin’s gender was a problem. He was furious when his father encouraged his brother to protect him, although he didn’t exactly understand why. His father treated him like a girl, but Gavin hated it. He wanted to play football like his brother, but was told he would get hurt. The option was to play softball rather than baseball, so he said, “absolutely not.”
In short, Gavin wanted to be treated exactly like his brother because “I considered us to be the same.”
“But when I would express certain desires, interests or proclivities,” he said, “I would be shut down.”