Trans icon Gavin Grimm is at risk of homelessness. His community is rallying to help.
Transgender advocate Gavin Grimm spent years suing the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia after it banned him from using the boys’ restroom in 2014. His case skyrocketed him into the public eye, and after multiple appeals, he finally won this year.
While the case settled for $1.3 million in attorney’s fees, Grimm, himself, didn’t end up with any money. Now, he is having trouble making ends meet.
Grimm has epilepsy. In May, he spent four days in a coma after a grand mal seizure. The incident has left Grimm unable to work or drive. As a result, he’s struggling to hold onto his housing.
A GoFundMe page launched to support Grimm explained that a lot of the media coverage of Grimm’s case incorrectly implied he was getting his own settlement after winning.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” wrote the fundraiser’s organizer, Vanessa Ford. “All of these funds went to legal fees. Not to Gavin. Gavin needs our help now.”
Ford went on to express that the trailblazer for trans rights deserves support: “There are so many needs in the world, but among them is a young man who has done so much for so many others and deserves the dignity and safety of housing security.”
So far, over $41,000 has been raised out of the $50,000 goal. Ford wrote that the money will be used to help Grimm cover housing and living expenses. He is also aware of the fundraiser.
According to Metro Weekly, funds from the crowdfunding campaign will be placed in a trust and managed by an executor, which will allow Grimm to keep his disability benefits as well.
“On disability, I do not make enough money, even if I used my entire check, to rent an apartment almost anywhere in the entire country,” Grimm said.
“On top of that, you have to prove that you make three times the income for a rental place. You have to have a cosigner, unless you have decent credit. People in my position usually don’t. You know, there’s just obstacle after obstacle. I’ve been on the housing waiting list for months. I also have other accessibility challenges. I cannot drive because of my medical issues, and I have to live somewhere that is walking distance from basic needs so that I can actually take care of myself instead of relying basically full time on assistance from other people.”
He also expressed gratitude for all who have donated.
“The support from the community has been incredible, has been so valuable to me, not necessarily just money-wise, but in reminding me that there is a community of people out there who see the value in the work that I’ve done,” Grimm said.
Grimm’s work began after his school issued a policy that said bathrooms “shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate private facility banning him from it.” The school installed a toilet in a closet and called it a unisex restroom.
Grimm said that he avoided using restrooms completely at school, which resulted in a urinary tract infection. He also said that the discrimination led to suicidal thoughts.
Grimm sued with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, and in 2019, an appeals court sided with him. In its decision, the court extensively cited the Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton Co. which said that Title VII’s ban on job discrimination “because of sex” also bans anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court refused to hear the school board’s appeal, so Grimm’s victory stands.