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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 28, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 26
Trans legal victory in Colorado - Student allowed to use the restroom of her chosen gender
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Trans legal victory in Colorado - Student allowed to use the restroom of her chosen gender

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled on June 24 that a Transgender student must be allowed to use the restroom appropriate for the gender with which she identifies.

Six-year old Coy Mathis was identified at birth as a boy, but has self-identified as a girl since she was first able to express herself at about 18 months and has lived as a girl since age 4. Her parents filed a complaint on her behalf with the state Civil Rights Division after she was denied access to the girls' restroom at her school.

The complaint alleged that the school district had violated Colorado's 2008 antidiscrimination statute, which expanded protections for Transgender people. After an investigation, the division, which enforces Colorado's antidiscrimination laws, agreed.

In a sharply worded ruling, the division concluded that the school district needlessly created a situation in which Coy would be subject to harassment when it barred her from the girls' restroom even though she clearly identified as female.

Telling Coy 'that she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions constitutes severe and pervasive treatment, and creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive,' Civil Rights Division director Steven Chavez wrote in the decision.

Chavez noted that while Coy's birth certificate stated she was male - an argument made by the school district - more recent medical and legal documents identified her as female.

It was clear, the Chavez's decision said, that Coy had completely integrated into society as a girl - wearing girls' clothing, standing in the girls' line at school, and choosing to play with girls.

But the ruling went even further, saying that evolving research on Transgender development showed that 'compartmentalizing a child as a boy or a girl solely based on their visible anatomy, is a simplistic approach to a difficult and complex issue.'

Depriving Coy of the acceptance that students need to succeed in school, Chavez wrote, 'creates a barrier where none should exist, and entirely disregards the charging party's gender identity.'

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, this is the first ruling in the country 'holding that Transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms that match the gender with which they identify, and the most comprehensive ruling ever supporting the rights of Transgender people to access bathrooms without harassment or discrimination.'

Michael D. Silverman, the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed the complaint on behalf of Coy and her parents, hailed the decision as a momentous victory.

'This is the first ruling in the nation that holds that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms that match who they are,' he said. 'There are thousands of families like the Mathises who are feeling relieved and vindicated that the commission ruled that Coy is a girl just like any other girl.'

According to the group, 17 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of legal protections for Transgender people.

Attorneys for the school district had argued it acted reasonably in the dispute, saying Coy was permitted to wear girls' clothing to school and was referred to as female.

The Mathis family recently relocated to another town in Colorado, where Coy will start second grade in the fall.

'We're grateful to the voters of Colorado for having put these protections for people like Coy in place to begin with, and we're thankful to the Civil Rights Division for enforcing the protection,' Kathryn Mathis said. 'This is incredible for her future, and for every other Transgender child in Colorado.'

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