NCTE Awardee Spotlight: Gavin Grimm

Three years ago, Gavin Grimm was an average high-schooler in Gloucester County, Virginia. At the beginning of his sophomore year, he came out to his school principal as transgender. Then he proceeded to go about his life — including using the boys’ restroom at his school. A few months passed by without incident. Within months, however, a school board decision and Gavin’s challenge set off a series of events that would eventually propel him to becoming one of the foremost transgender advocates in the United States and earn him a place on the 2017 Time 100 list.

Gavin Grimm before rally to protect trans students in Washington, DC — Credit: Geoff Livingston

Gavin has handled the many challenges he’s faced over the last few years with poise, such as giving a calm and eloquent speech to a roomful of adults debating where he should go to the restroom. When his school board voted to restrict his restroom access, the national ACLU and ACLU of Virginia supported Gavin in filing a lawsuit against the school district. The case moved through the courts and eventually ended up heading towards the Supreme Court. But just weeks before the first set of hearings at the Supreme Court, the Trump administration withdrew critical guidance documents about transgender students, which affected the court’s ability to decide Gavin’s case. Now the case has been sent back to the district court so that it can make a new decision that doesn’t rely on the guidance documents.

Photo courtesy of ACLU/Scout Tufankjian.

Whether or not his case ends up at the Supreme Court again, Gavin is unquestionably a hero of the transgender community. We can think of no better representative for the rights of transgender youth, and we hope to see him continue to achieve great things as he enters adulthood. Gavin is receiving the Andrew Cray Award, named after another remarkable young transgender man, who was taken from us by cancer too young at the age of 28, but after he had already won so many advancements in transgender health in his short time with us.

For Gavin’s grace, unflagging courage, and steadfast commitment to living authentically, NCTE is proud to present Gavin Grimm with the Andrew Cray award at our 14th anniversary event, Forward Together.


This article is the first in a series, profiling honorees at NCTE’s 14th annual event, May 25, 2017. Click here to secure your place at NCTE’s 14th anniversary event, Forward Together.