This Series Highlights The Devastating Effect Of Trans Bathroom Laws

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison

Too often in the ongoing battle over anti-trans bathroom bills, supporters of such laws cite abstract, hypothetical “threats” as justification, ignoring the real, lived experiences of the trans people who will be most affected by — and most at risk because of —restrictive bathroom rules. Broadly’s “Youth, Interrupted” series takes an in depth look at the lives of three young trans people, highlighting how extensively bathroom restrictions impact their abilities to learn and grow. The series starkly illustrates that these teens’ fight to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identities isn’t "just" about going to the bathroom. It’s about access to education and the right to live — freely, honestly, and without fear.

Across three episodes, host Diana Tourjee interviews Gavin Grimm, Trinity Neal, and Vinnie Holt, three trans teenagers from different parts of the country who are grappling to go to school and live normally amidst the controversy surrounding trans people’s basic bodily functions. You may recognize Gavin Grimm — he became the face of a movement when his legal battle to use bathroom facilities consistent with his gender identity nearly made it to the Supreme Court this spring. (In the wake of the Trump administration revoking protection guidelines for transgender students, the Supreme Court declined to hear Grimm’s case.)

In “Youth, Interrupted,” Grimm discusses how unwittingly becoming a figurehead and activist has impacted his daily life as a Virginia teenager.

(Fair warning, you WILL cry when Gavin Grimm receives a stack of letters of support from a class of third graders. Or at least, I did.)

In another episode, Tourjee interviews 13-year-old Trinity Neal and her mother, Deshanna. Trinity transitioned at the age of four; Deshanna explains that transitioning saved Trinity from a deep clinical depression. But when Trinity started school, administrators refused to acknowledge her as a girl. Ultimately, her mother took her out of school and home schooled her, a move that placed a major financial burden on the whole family. Trinity and Deshanna’s story shows just how schools’ failure to recognize trans students’ gender identity impacts whole families, in some cases forcing parents to choose between financial stability and the health and well-being of their children.

Tourjee interviews 14-year-old Vinnie Holt in a final episode. Vinnie’s North Carolina high school bars him from using the bathroom consistent with his gender identity. Figuring out where and how to use the bathroom is a daily source of stress; usually, Vinnie says, he tries to avoid using the restroom at school altogether and limits his water intake because of it. Needless to say, constantly having to navigate his ability to perform basic bodily functions is both bad for his health and a constant source of distraction at school.

At the end of his episode, Gavin Grimm remarks, “Discrimination stems from a lack of understanding, and a lack of knowledge, and I think if people met transpeople as people first, or learned about their stories, or saw a human face to the issue, you’d have a lot more acceptance and tolerance in the world.” As this series proves, anti-trans legislation isn’t an abstract issue; it directly impacts real people who are simply trying to live their lives — and here are three living, breathing teenagers to prove it.