Latest landmark federal court ruling supports trans students

With just 2 days remaining until his high school graduation this week, a federal appeals court in Wisconsin upheld the right of a transgender student who identifies as a male to use the boys’ bathroom.

Tremper High School senior Ashton Whitaker began identifying as a boy during his freshman year of high school, and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. He asked to use the boys’ bathroom as a sophomore, began hormone replacement therapy in July 2016 and changed his legal name in September 2016. But the Kenosha boy has been fighting for his rights throughout most of his high school years.

Just last year, Whitaker fought and won the right to run for Prom King, after the school administration at first insisted he was only eligible to be considered for Prom Queen because he was assigned female at birth. A protest by his classmates and his mom — Melissa Whitaker has taught at his high school of nearly 20 years — changed the administrators’ minds.

Transgender Law Center – Ash Whitaker

Then in September, U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper granted Whitaker permission to use the boys’ bathroom at school. On Tuesday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court. The ruling came on the second-to-last day of Whitaker’s senior year.

Although his attorney, Ilona Turner of the Transgender Law Center cautioned that this ruling applies only to Whitaker, it does set a precedent. “This is a big big big huge huge deal,” agreed Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This sends the strongest possible message on where the federal courts are heading on this issue. As a practical matter, this will probably motivate many school districts across the country to treat transgender students equally.”

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