By Adam Winkler
Where should a transgender schoolgirl be allowed to pee? To some, this may sound like a minor, insignificant question, but not to Nicole Maines, a 15-year-old transgender girl who attended Maine public schools. Born a boy biologically, Maines now self-identifies as a girl, dressing in girls’ clothing and sporting a typical 15-year-old girl’s hair and makeup. In addition to the harassment she faced from other kids, Maines also met intolerance by school officials, who refused to allow her to use the girls’ bathroom. Instead, in a remarkably insensitive decision, the school required her to use a staff bathroom after a grandparent of a male student complained that Maines shouldn’t be allowed in the little girls’ room.
Maines’ parents took her out of the school and sued the school, claiming their daughter’s potty segregation was a violation of Maine’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against transgender people on the basis of their gender identity. While Maine’s Human Rights Commission held that the transgender girl was entitled to use the girls’ bathroom, a state court judge disagreed. Maine’s Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear her case, the latest evidence that the next frontier of the civil-rights movement is transgender and transsexual equality.