Queen of the DayCoy Mathis, Transgender 6-Year-Old, Triumphs Over DiscriminationParry Ernsberger

This week, a 6-year-old Colorado girl won a major case in favor of the rights of transgender children.

Coy Mathis was born a boy, but has been behaving like a girl since she was 18 months old, according to her parents. She preferred Barbies over dinosaurs and expressed to her mother at the age of 4 that she believed there was “something wrong” with her body. As a boy, Coy didn’t feel comfortable in his own skin. But once doctors diagnosed her with gender identity disorder and recommended that her parents let her live as a girl, those feelings of confusion began to dissipate.

Coy was enrolled in kindergarten as a female, where she was referred to as such by teachers and peers, dressed in girls’ clothing and used the girls’ bathroom with the rest of the little ladies. Until last December, when Coy’s Colorado elementary school banned her from using the girls’ bathroom and instead ordered her to use the boys’ bathroom, the staff bathroom or the nurse’s bathroom.

Despite the fact that most of the teachers and students at Coy’s school weren’t aware that she has male genitals, the school’s lawyers claimed that their decision “took into account not only Coy but other students in the building, their parents, and the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls’ bathroom would have as Coy grew older.”

Alleging that the school had violated her civil rights, Coy’s parents pulled her out for homeschooling and joined forces with the TLDEF (Transgender Legal and Defense Education Fund) to file a formal complaint. This week, that battle was won and could have widespread implications for protecting the rights of transgender children all over the country. Transgender people in Colorado will now be able to access bathrooms “without harassment or discrimination” — a national first-of-its-kind ruling.

“This is amazing because it is not just a win for Coy, but a win for every transgender child in the entire state,” said Coy’s mother, Kathryn. “It’s amazing for all of them and their future. It lets them be who they are. They don’t have to spend their childhood being discriminated against.”

Coy too, has some understanding of the breadth of her victory.

“We told her the lawyer was fight for us and the state has agreed with us,” her mother said. “She was completely ecstatic. Her eyes bugged out and she jumped up and down: ‘I can go back to school and make new friends.’”

 

Featured image via abcnews.com

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  1. I’m confused about all the uproar over having a “boy” in a girls’ bathroom. I can see it being a little awkward if there was an anatomically female cismale who insisted on using the stand-up urinals in the boys’ room – aside from the mechanical question of how that would work, urinals are out in the open and might cause some issue purely on the basis of kids being confused. (Though of all the people I’ve ever met, children are the most understanding and accepting of just about anything.) But in a girls’ bathroom, it’s stalls. I’d never have known if there was a boy in the stall next to me, unless he was dressed like a boy.

    I get the sense that people are upset because Coy MIGHT, in the future, get hormones and start slamming his fellow ladies-room-goers up against the wall for a quick whatever (as if to say that having hormones in a body with a penis automatically makes you a rape machine given the opportunity). But if Coy is self-aware enough at such a young age to understand a gender identity that conflicts with her given genitalia, I’m guessing that she’s going to be ultra-aware of her surroundings in the bathroom. Plus, hormones – girls have them too. Everyone has them, and it’s confusing for everyone, no matter who you are, no matter what gender or cis-gender.

    I say cross that bridge when you come to it. Otherwise, are you going to identify girls who look too long at other girls and start forcing them to use the special lesbian bathroom? Or go to the nurse’s office to use that bathroom so there’s no chance of them getting their lesbian slime all over the innocent straight girls?

    No; no, didn’t think so.

  2. I love that this Civil Rights Lawyer and this court will argue on one hand That the concept of “God” can’t be spoken in school because “He can’t be seen, touched, or measured.” However just because a child is born with male genitalia, does not mean that he is a boy. I have to take that “he” is a “she” regardless of what they were born as. Those parents now have to have a conversation with their children that we can choose if we want to be a boy or girl. If we are going to argue equal rights, then all kids in public school must be given the choice of what bathroom they will use depending on how they feel. If a Young woman wants a privacy while dealing with their changing body can they go into the restroom? Nope. move over Jimmy is feeling a like a little lady today. If you don’t you are being intolerant. What could possible go wrong there?

  3. Am I the only one who remembers having a shared single stall bathroom in elementary school that was in my actual classroom and NEVER having an issue with the boys and girls sharing it? Therefor proving that children of any gender can in fact use the same bathroom without an issue. My sister-in-laws classroom has a shared bathroom as well and no one ever has a problem.

  4. Why is it okay to have an opinion unless it is going against the popular view, then you are labeled a bigot?

  5. I am on the side with the school on this one. “future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls’ bathroom would have” FUTURE impact. What happens when Cory develops hormones? Even if nobody sees each others genitals in school bathrooms (usually) this sets a precedent .. maybe a 14 year old boy tells everyone he’s a girl so he can use the girls bathroom but is just doing it to spy on girls? Sounds absurd, but it’s not.
    I were a girl at that school and found out later that Cory was a boy I would feel like my rights were abused.

    It should be nice and simple. If you have a vagina, use the ladies room. If you have a penis, use the mens room. If you have issue with that, use the separate handicapped room or nurses room in a school.

    And to take issue with the whole “gender is a social construct” thing, then why does Cory dress like a girl? A girl can dress “like a man” and vice versa and still be the same gender. If dressing “like a girl” means you are a girl then what about all the boys who play dress-up with their siblings and wear dresses? Did they just become girls for those hours of play? No. If I wear pants does that make me a man? No. If a man wears a skirt, does that make him a woman? No.

    If Cory was “acting like a girl” from a young age, that doesn’t mean he is a girl. What does it mean to “act like a girl”? Play with dolls and wear dresses? No. Little girls can play with cars or other ‘typically boy things’ and still be girls. Boys can be gentle with dolls or animals and still be boys. If this kid wants to dress “like a girl” go for it. But it is a boy. He has a penis. Like I said before,

    Vagina = ladies room. Penis = mens room.

  6. I’m a little confused how this became an issue. Who would have known Coy possessed male genitals? If her parents registered her at school as a girl, when and why would any questions have popped up? I am glad of the final result that this will not be a problem in the future for any transgender children/young adults.

  7. This little girl should be allowed to be who and what she wants. Her happiness is of paramount importance. Whether or not she will grow up and continue to understand herself as a ‘she’ or ‘he’ is something we may never know, but I am happy for her now and hope that she continues to find happiness and be comfortable in her skin in the future.

  8. I can’t see the problem with the bathroom issue. Mostly girls use cubicles on their own (at least pre-teens do) so how would anyone become aware of what genitals Coy possessed??
    Parents would do better to promote inclusiveness rather ‘cotton balling’ their kids from the reality of our existence.
    Life’s short and most certainly not black and white (thankfully – how boring would that be!)unfortunately it is also at turns brutal and unkind. I applaud Coy’s parents for allowing their child to be who she is and be happy, I just wish others could do the same. Its a hard road but a worthy one. Good luck Coy!

  9. I am torn about this. I am happy to see progress made for the LGBT community. I think they should be treated equally. However, I can see the concern parents may have with a child that has male genitals using the girl bathroom. While Coy may feel she is a girl, she still has the anatomy of a male. Parents may be concerned of what their child might accidentally see in the bathroom. It could lead to needing “the talk” which is usually saved for an older age.

  10. I am so thrilled that trans* issues are beginning to be legally addressed. It makes sad to see that people aren’t as accepting on here, especially with such a lovely shout-out of an article. It’s bananas that we have so many rules and restrictions on how our children express their gender, but hopefully with more stories and positive responses like the anti-discrimination law that passed in Colorado, we can start to work toward a more accepting and AFFIRMING society. All Love! <3

  11. It’s not about being closed minded. Coy is not a girl. OBVIOUSLY. It’s not about being bigoted. The parents should take full responsibility for the “actions” of this child. I may be old fashioned, but last time I checked, if a kid is born a boy or girl, they ARE in fact, a boy or girl. This world does not give you the option. This little boy should dress like a boy – or BE dressed like a boy – rather than his parents trying to make a statement that it’s up to the child what they are. He has male parts – he’s a little boy.

    Sheesh. It’s like having to argue that 2+2=4 these days.

    • “This little boy should dress like a boy – or BE dressed like a boy”

      Why?

      Gender is a social construct. We create as a society what “boy” and “girl” clothes are, and that changes all the time, and differs across the countries and cultures of the world. Society has also deemed what toys, behaviors, and talents are masculine and feminine. When you reference clothing, that pertains to gender ROLES. Whether or not Coy is a boy or girl is a matter of sex.

      “This world does not give you the option.”
      What do you mean by world? The earth itself? That does not make sense because the earth does not think. The people on the earth? That does not make any sense either because there is no a consensus on this issue. You feel one way, I feel another. Some cultures already accept Coy’s situation as natural. So what “world” is not giving her a choice?

      What is it about this child’s situation that bothers you? How does it affect you? Why on earth would anyone want to impose their own beliefs on other people when it would only serve to make the other person less happy?

    • It’s just not that simple, you see……

      Being transgendered goes much deeper than the genitalia one is born with. It is the way a person feels inside more than anything. Which I’m sure you are aware of. The thing is, there would be hundreds if not thousands of trans children running around if their parents would just allow them to be who they are. However, I do understand a father not wanting to buy their son a tutu if he asks and just brushing it aside as a phase.

      But It seems like you are attacking the parents for allowing her to be who she is and dress like a girl. Now, what is wrong with that?! I praise them for being able to truly read and understand their child. They saw that Coy was unhappy living the life of a male so they made some changes. And give the kid a break, It’s not as if she is running around naked with glitter smeared all over her body in public…Coy is merely deciding to wear a pink dress or two, play with Barbies and grow out her hair.

      And because of the freedom of expression she is being granted, this little person will grow up to happy in her own skin. Rather than feeling ashamed, confused, and/or depressed which would most likely be the result of her parents suppressing rather than supporting

      So yes, I would say that you are pretty old-fashioned in your opinion. Because to me, it would seem really unfair to punish a child for being who they are when it is not hurting anyone. Last time I checked, the girls restroom has stalls, not urinals. So Coy going into the stall and doing her business has nothing to do with anyone but her.

      • running around with glitter, dresses, and a doctor’s note does not make the kid a) transgendered or b) a girl

        it means that a little boy is running around acting like a girl.

        • How do you know that?! Who are you to make that assumption?!

          Oh wait, that’s right, you dressed in baggy pants and only hung out with boys when you were younger.

          That makes you the expert, right?

          This child could very well be transgendered. Or maybe not. But for the time being, she wants to be called a girl, dress like a girl, etc. And that, in the end, is what differentiates a trans person from a non-trans person

          • I suppose that’s the great thing about this country – rights to our own opinions.

          • Anyway, this is all irrelevant in the end. My main annoyance came from the fact that you are saying “he is a boy, therefore he should dress like a boy, his parents shouldn’t be making this statement” etc etc. The rest of your points are valid and I do respect your opinion.

            • Also, I think it’s important to recognize the fact that these are just clothes. This is just physical appearance.

              I would have a completely different opinion if his parents were allowing him to get a gender transformation surgery or something…but that’s not the case (of course!). Because, like you said, this child is very young and ten year from now might be perfectly happy wearing boy’s clothes.

    • I’m sorry, Allison, but did you miss the part where legitimate doctors with hard-earned degrees and founts of knowledge DIAGNOSED HER WITH GENDER IDENTIFICATION ISSUES? At the age of 4? If a little girl with male genitals doesn’t feel like a male, but a female, her parents have done the right thing by allowing her to choose what gender she wants to be. If she feels more comfortable being a girl, then so be it! Why further complicate this child into making her be who she isn’t on the inside? She’s a beautiful child just the way she is, and I am so proud of her and her parents for doing the right thing. You go, Coy!

      • I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you. Those same “doctors” would have deemed me a boy a long time ago if that were the case. I dressed like a boy, slumped like a boy, only played with other boys and prayed to God every night that I could just “be a boy” because I didn’t like girly things. But guess what? I grew up.

        Michael Jackson wanted to be white – but after all the surgeries and makeup, he was still deemed a black man in a white man’s (who kinda resembled his sister) body.

        • What’s good for others, what parenting styles suit the child best and what laws should and shouldn’t be passed, should not be predicated on what your individual experience was like as a girl. Whether or not you agree with what the kid’s parents are doing, I’d hope you don’t refute that trans* people being able to use the restroom they choose without fear or harassment is a good thing,which was the larger issue.

        • Hmm..

          Maybe Coy will “grow up” too….

          I find it funny that you are trying to argue a point but now you are saying that you dressed like a boy as a child, too.

          • I did dress like a boy – probably up until I was 15 and have pictures to prove it. I ripped off any bows that my mom would put in my hair and had shorts under my dresses so that when church was out, I was on the soccer field. But you’re missing the point. I was a GIRL who dressed like a BOY. I wasn’t a boy in a girl’s body. I was still a girl. And always will be.

            • I totally get what you are saying. You were a tom boy. So was I. But the thing is, YOU are not the subject of this article. And comparing the way that you were as a child has nothing to do with any points being made here. It also doesn’t make your opinion any more valid than the doctors who diagnosed Coy. And in the end, that is why I completely, 100% disagree with you saying that since this kid has a penis he should be dressed in boy clothes. That’s just not fair.

      • Good point, Brittney Moore. :D

    • And what about hermaphrodites? Does that make them both?

      • Do a little research… hermaphroditus was a part of Greek mythology and does not exist in society. There are people who are born with characteristics of the opposite sex, but are never fully both.

        So no. “The mythological term “hermaphrodite” implies that a person is both fully male and fully female. This is a physiologic impossibility.”

        “The words “hermaphrodite” and “pseudo-hermaphrodite” are stigmatizing and misleading words. Unfortunately, some medical personnel still use them to refer to people with certain intersex conditions, because they still subscribe to an outdated nomenclature that uses gonadal anatomy as the basis of sex classification.” -http://www.isna.org/faq/hermaphrodite

        • And yet you’re doing something very similar in using gonadal anatomy as the basis for the child’s gender classification (and subscribing to a gender binary). For example, when you said:

          “He has male parts – he’s a little boy.”

        • I find your ignorance absolutely disgusting and I really do hope that you don’t have any children who turn out to be sexually ambiguous or gender variant for their own sakes.

        • But in the end, none of these little facts have anything to do with the fact that you think his parents are doing wrong by letting their child dress like a girl because in every other way, aside from his penis, he is a girl.

          Doesn’t make much sense to me when all is said and done..

  12. i’m very open minded but my biggest issue with kids who think they’re transgender is that this all ties directly to our ideas of what gender roles should be. why shouldn’t little boys be able to dress in pink and glitter and play with barbies? now, i understand if the little kid feels like they should have been born with female body parts, but it sounds like the bigger issue is that our society doesn’t let boys be feminine and girls be masculine. that’s another issue. maybe this kid will grow up and want to be a woman, get surgery etc and that’s fine… but the bigger question is why can’t little boys be more like girls without calling themselves girls?

    • Gender identity disorder is more the. “Liking” things for the opposite gender. Actually, it really has nothing to do with gender and is actually about a persons sex. For a boy with gender identity, it means he literally feels that he is a girl. It’s more then “liking” girl things. I had a student with gender identity “disorder” (I hate that term) and I’ve also had tomboys/boys who liked dress up (why isn’t there a word for boys who prefer girly things?) and they are two completely different things. (Sorry for all of the quotation marks, but they were kind of necessary)

  13. this is sickening.

    • Your bigotry is sickening.

      • Thanks! ;)

        I am in no way a bigot, nor do I feel the need to explain myself or my personal views. There are many aspects that I do agree with in this case and many that I disagree with as well. Everyone is entitled to raise their children the way they feel is best., and i’ll just leave it at that.

        Have a blessed day.

      • She may have meant that their discrimination is sickening..you should probably allow a person to explain themselves before calling names.

        Now, if she meant that Coy dressing in pink clothes and feeling like a girl trapped in boys body is sickening, then I could not agree more :)

  14. I can’t believe its taking law and legal action for equality and respect. I love my country, but something is so fundamentally wrong when we have this kinda of bigotry and hate. GO COY!