Gavin Grimm vs. is a short film about how a transgender teen is making a big impact, not only in his community, but across our country. Everyone needs to use and have access to a bathroom, no matter how they choose to personally identify their gender, but identifying as transgender male has led to many roadblocks for high school student Gavin Grimm. After his transition, adults in his community voiced their opinions and made it so that he would no longer be able to use the men’s restroom, but he would have to use a separate, private restroom instead, leading to the court case of Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. This issue deals with the Fourteenth Amendment as sex discrimination is prohibited by schools, and gained national media attention because of it, and the case is to be brought before the Supreme Court. This film follows Gavin’s journey of raising awareness for transgender teens, like himself, and his fight for equality, in and out of the restroom.

Nadia Hallgren, who has had an extensive career as a camera operator and cinematographer for many documentary films that address large social issues, has directed a television mini-series called She’s the Ticket, which follows female candidates running for office, as well as three other short films:  Gavin Grimm vs., Love Lockdown, and Sanza Hanza: King Surfer. Hallgren’s works to keep viewers informed and ready to help join in fighting for transgender people’s rights alongside Gavin and his community.

Getting to see Gavin Grimm vs. at Mountainfilm Festival was an incredible opportunity, as it was shown in a block of shorts called Movers and Shakers. This block of short documentary films showcased powerful stories of individuals and communities that are each working to bring positive change to our world in unique and important ways. Presenting Gavin’s story by using a participatory method of documentary filmmaking made his story very personal and gave an in-depth look at how issues transgender individuals are facing effect more than just them–they effect all of us.

Gavin Grimm outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals

Before this film, I knew about the issues regarding trans’ bathroom rights, but I had no idea where the issue originated from or what was being done about it on a national scale. Hearing Gavin’s story and what he personally has had to go through, just for the basic necessity of using and having access to public restrooms, gave me a better, deeper understanding of this important issue. If everyone could see his story, the difficulties he has had to face for equality, more people, especially those who are unaware outside of the LGBTQ community, would be more informed and understand why certain “solutions” such as using the bathroom transgender individuals were assigned at birth, is only making the problem worse. Together we all need to work to recognize each other for what makes us individuals, and the first place we can start is by recognizing individuals for how they personally identify and making sure they feel equal and accepted by all.

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Kyra Beske

Creative Digital Media & Film Studies Double Major at Winona State University. Vice President of Phi Theta Chi Sorority. Intern for Treedome.