AHA Keynote Speaker Rode a Rollercoaster of Liberties and Litigation

Gavin Grimm (Photo: Scout Tufankjian/ACLU)

I did not choose to announce to the news media that I am transgender. My school board made that decision for me. But now that I am visible, I want to use my position to help the country see transgender people like me as real people just living our lives.” – Gavin Grimm

As a teenager in rural Virginia, Gavin Grimm asked for nothing more than to use a bathroom that corresponded with the gender he identified with, which was male. However, he quickly became a trailblazer for transgender bathroom rights in the United States. Because of his accomplishments, the American Humanist Association is proud to present Grimm as our 2018 Annual Conference Keynote speaker at the 77th annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Over the years, the AHA has featured notable keynote speakers like Christopher Hitchens, Kelly Carlin, and astrophysicist Max Tegmark at its annual gathering. Our keynote address is reserved for an individual whom we as humanists admire, and a person who contributes to the progression of society. Since Grimm was a high school sophomore, he has been doing exactly that for the LGBTQ community, a community the AHA has proudly stood beside since our founding.

Grimm was only a teenager when he bravely transitioned. He began living publicly as a boy and began attending his school as a new person—as Gavin. Although he had been doing so in public restrooms for a while, there was something different about using the boy’s bathroom at school. The school administrators had no problem with Grimm using the boy’s bathroom as he’d received permission to do so. However, the parents in his community were unaccepting of the accommodations the school had made for him, and it didn’t take long for Grimm’s bathroom routine to come to an abrupt halt as a town meeting was called to discuss the appropriateness of it. Unable to come up with a solution, the issue was brought to court, and luckily Grimm was granted permission to use the boy’s bathroom. That is, until his rights were swiftly taken away once again by the US Supreme Court. Grimm experienced a rollercoaster of liberties and litigation for some time. He had become a sort of punching bag for trans-bathroom rights. Eventually, he graduated and never really got to experience the freedom of a normal school day.

But Grimm didn’t stop there; he remains a prominent voice of the transgender community. He has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) with the 2018 Upstander Award and is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. He continues the fight in securing trans rights today.

Again and again, Gavin Grimm has shown his courage in fighting for the transgender community. Regardless of the multiple setbacks, he continues to be a force of change for trans youth in the US and all over the world.

The 2018 American Humanist Association’s 77th Annual Conference will take place May 17 -20, 2018, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. To register, please visit: conference.americahumanist.org.