Coy Mathis, Transgender 6-Year-Old, Triumphs Over Discrimination

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.'”

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