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Transgender Teen Gavin Grimm on DOJ Guidance Change: ‘It Hurts’

Gavin Grimm, the teen at the center of a national debate over whether transgender youth can use the school bathroom of their choosing, said he was frustrated and hurt by the Trump administration's action on the issue Wednesday.

Grimm's two-year-long legal fight against his Gloucester, Virginia, school to use the boys restroom ballooned into a national debate and a Supreme Court case.

Transgender teen at heart of SCOTUS case on Trump rollbacks 4:38

His lawsuit thrust the 17-year-old high school student into the spotlight. Actress Laverne Cox even used her stage time at the Grammys to compel the audience to "Google Gavin Grimm."

Grimm said he spent Wednesday night battling feelings of disappointment.

"It definitely hurts to hear your government saying that you’re not deserving of protections that you should have as a transgender student," Grimm told NBC News Thursday.

After the Trump administration rescinded guidance on Wednesday night that had earlier articulated protections for transgender students, Grimm's case surged in importance.

Without the support of the federal government, it seems, the question of whether transgender kids should be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity is likely to be answered at Grimm's March 28th hearing.

Even though Grimm's case was already a figurehead in the fight for transgender equality, it now stands to define whether federal law banning discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination against transgender people.

Image:
Gavin Grimm is photographed at his home in Gloucester, Virginia, on Aug. 21, 2016. The transgender teen sued the Gloucester County School Board after it barred him from the boys' bathroom. Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post via Getty Images

"It was just very frustrating. I think that’s the main emotion that a lot of people felt," Grimm said of the Trump administration's action. "Because this guidance was in place, and it was positive, and now it's rolled back. And a lot of people probably don’t see any necessity for that."

If there's stress involved in being a symbol for thousands of peers, Grimm doesn't show it. The mature and well-spoken teen expressed concern for kids who might be distraught over the news, and vowed to press on.

"It doesn't mean that the world is ending even though it might very well feel that way," said Grimm, when asked what he would tell transgender youth. "It’s scary and you’re allowed to be afraid. But understand that people like the ACLU are still fighting tooth and nail every day and they will not stop doing that no matter what the administration comes out with and does."

Normally, Grimm would be in class on a Thursday. But the high school senior left home on Wednesday night as soon as the guidance was rescinded, first traveling to speak at a protest steps from the White House before heading to New York for interviews.

It's not a typical life for a teenager, and Grimm said he sometimes finds himself having to cancel hangouts with his friends because there's so much work to do. Part of that work is social, though: he regularly interacts online with people from the transgender community who send him messages — and with the four or five other transgender kids in his own town.

Still, Grimm looks forward to the day his Supreme Court case is settled and he can stop running around so much. What's the first thing he's going to do after the hearing?

"Take a nap," he said.