Gender and sex from discussion to revolution

Gavin Grimm was among the students and faculty who viewed VCU’s screening of “Gender Revolution” on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at Cabell Libary. Grimm is known for his efforts fighting for transgender people to gain right to use the restroom of the sex they identify as rather than the sex that is written on their birth certificate.

Grimm grew up in Gloucester County, Virginia, a little more than an hour away from Richmond. There, he came forward about his gender identity in high school. For a while he used the bathroom in the nurse’s office, but when he started using the men’s restroom in hope of sharing equal liberties with his peers, the school board told him it was not allowed.

Grimm’s case made it to court, and while it was on track to make it to the Supreme Court, Grimm graduated high school and now his case sits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit while the court decides whether it is still relevant.

Despite the slowdown of Grimm’s case, the transgender community is not staying quiet. “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric” takes viewers across the country and around the globe on a journey documenting gender identity. Grimm is one of the individuals interviewed in the documentary talking about his experience. Journalist Katie Couric asks questions many people are nervous to ask or do not know how to ask.

Couric spoke to students about pronouns and preteens what it will mean for them when their bodies begin to fight their hearts and minds. She spoke to parents of intersex children and to elderly transgender women who waited most of their lives to transition.

The film explores the difference between sex and gender. The film reiterates that sex is the physical genitalia a person is born with while gender is what a person thinks and feels they are. Gender and sexuality are not intertwined.

As Sam Killerman — an author, comedian and social justice advocate — says in the film “gender is who you go to bed as. Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with.”

After the film Grimm, Bee Coston, an assistant professor of gender, sexuality and women’s studies at VCU and Bill Farrar, the director of public policy and communications for the ACLU, held a panel discussion open for questions.

Many people thanked Grimm for being the public figure who sparked conversation in their homes and changed the mindset of many families. Some asked how they could help. One person asked Farrar how to approach attorneys about the subject.

“I would say that I think this was a great event to start an ongoing conversation about LGBTQ issues that will happen all semester long,” Coston said. “There are actually three additional speakers planned throughout the semester. One is Dean Spade who I’m very, very excited about.”

Coston hopes people “show up and come out and engage in dailogue about LGBTQ rights.”

“VCU is really the first place I’ve had to be queer and be trans and it be okay,” One attendee said. “It has just been really, really affirming of identity and life and the future of justice that we’re creating.”


Emma Sue Sims, Staff Writer

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