Maine Judge Tosses Transgender Student’s Bathroom Suit

StylishunisexSaying he’s “not unsympathetic” to the discrimination transgender people face in today’s society, Maine Justice William Anderson this week threw out a transgender student’s lawsuit claiming Maine’s Orono School District broke the law by forbidding the unnamed student from using the girl’s bathroom.

“The court is not unsympathetic to [the girl’s] plight, or that of her parents,” said Justice Anderson, according to the Bangor Daily News. “It is no doubt a difficult thing to grow up transgender in today’s society. This is a sad truth, which cannot be completely prevented by the law alone.”

More from his remarks:

The law casts a broad stroke where one more delicate and refined is needed. Although others mistreated [the girl] because she is transgender, our Maine Human Rights Act only holds a school accountable for deliberate indifference to known, severe and pervasive student-on-student harassment. It does no more.

In this case, the school acted within the bounds of its authority in prohibiting [the girl] from using the girls’ restroom; it did not itself harass [the girl] by its actions, and it was not deliberately indifferent to the harassment that [she] experienced from others.

The court finds that there is no evidence of deliberate indifference with respect to plaintiff’s claims of education discrimination, and it finds that defendants acted within the law under the public accommodation discrimination claim. Therefore, the court grants summary judgment to [the school district].

The lawsuit, stemming from a 2007 incident, was first filed in 2009.


  1. G.I. Joe says

    I think we should call the judge “she”, since she insists on calling the plaintiff “she” as well.

  2. Paul R says

    I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but if the incident occurred more than 5 years ago, let it go. By now she’s presumably in her 20s. What does she hope to achieve at this point?

    I was extremely sympathetic when I thought this was a recent case. But at some point you have to move on and fight more relevant battles. It was unlikely that she was going to establish precedent for other transgender kids, and has presumably graduated from the school and is no longer affected.

  3. Paul R says

    @G.I. Joe, what are you talking about? This is a MTF transgender person. Meaning, a man who hopes to become a woman. So she wants to be called “she.”

  4. Sam says

    I agree with the judge. The sad part is, this woman will now suffer the discrimination, particularly with employment, not because of her identity, but because she filed a frivolous lawsuit.

  5. mikenola says

    I’m just curious how many of the readers here have actually thought about the real effects and costs of transitioning teens in High Schools?

    For the transitioning youth it is an important and over riding interest. meaning they are focused on their needs in what is a really troubling time in their life.

    but what about the other 99.9% of their fellow students?

    Those other students are also transitioning into adults, their hormones are raging and their minds are trying to wrap themselves around reality.

    Some of those students would be seriously upset about a person of a different gender, even one “transitioning”, hanging out in the bathroom with them.

    Do they really have to “get over it”, just to satisfy the wants and needs of a “transitioning” student?

    Do they have to learn that to be accepting of different people means giving up your own personal beliefs and sense of modesty as it relates to not public spaces, but the privacy of the toilet?

    Do schools and other public places have to build separate bathrooms for their “transitioning” students? and how many will complain that is unfair to those students because it separates them from their peers?

    another aspect to consider… exactly how far can a minor, a high school student transition before they are adults? I cannot imagine a physician giving a developing minor hormones to enhance or suppress the growth of secondary sex characteristics like breasts or facial hair.

    That seems to be a recipe for disaster, and if I am right, then exactly how are they “transitioning” beyond cross dressing and learning to be comfortable with their new gender specific name?

    I don’t have a problem with people who need gender reassignment and I have great empathy for their situation.

    What I have reservations about is exactly how far the demand to accept them, at all costs and in all variations, overrides the needs and wants of other students, particularly in Public Tax Payer funded high schools.

  6. Paul R says

    Yeah, Mikeola, there are so many bathrooms for women and girls that aren’t exclusively stalls. And it’s genetically possible for FTMs to use anything besides a stall in a men’s room.

    Goodness! I can think of about 4 people who would notice or care. How much time do you spend analyzing the genitals of people you can’t even see in public bathrooms?

  7. Paul R says

    Yeah, Mikeola, there are so many bathrooms for women and girls that aren’t exclusively stalls. And it’s genetically possible for FTMs to use anything besides a stall in a men’s room.

    Goodness! I can think of about 4 people who would notice or care. How much time do you spend analyzing the genitals of people you can’t even see in public bathrooms?

  8. William says

    While I am sympathetic to the girl, and while I personally have no problem with anyone who wants to use whatever bathroom they want, I don’t think this story has anything to do with gay people.

    Gay men are men. Gay women are women. We aren’t in conflict with our genders. We don’t want to use the bathrooms of the opposite sex.

    Blogs like Towleroad, in an effort to validate the bogus concept of LGBT, are on a mission to “educate” us that we are linked in some defining way to transsexuals. This is a lie. Towleroad, please stop lying and promoting false stereotypes.

  9. Icebloo says

    Why can’t she just use the girl’s bathroom ? It’s not like there aren’t doors on the bathroom stalls.
    I don’t have an issue with females using the men’s room if they use the stall and close the door. We make such a fuss over nothing.

  10. Francis says

    The whole trans bathroom “issue” is really about dehumanizing trans persons. It’s about dehumanizing trans persons, who are still considered at the very least outsiders to most people. It’s about not wanting any association or close contact with “perverts”. That’s obvious. It’s a real, real reflection of our society that people, including a lot of gay/lesbian/bisexual folk, are so paranoid that they feel transmen and transwomen cannot use a public bathroom without they needing to know what that trans persons’ genitalia is.

  11. RJ says

    Perhaps they should just make unisex bathrooms with stalls only that everyone can use. Problem solved.

  12. Leonard says


    I really wish people read up on issues before giving their opinion. Yes, adolescents are giving hormones to help the transitioning process. The earlier the better. There is also extensive psychological counseling occurring concurrently. It’s not just dress up and a name change for a lot of these trans* students.

    I’d like to ask you if the straight students who comprise 90% of the student body within schools should be comfortable changing and showering in front of gay men and gay women? Is it ok that “they have to learn that to be accepting of different people means giving up [their] own personal beliefs and sense of modesty as it relates to not public spaces, but the privacy of the toilet [and locker room]?”


    Ever hear of safety and power in numbers? Gay men don’t want to have sex with women, should we kick lesbians out of the LGBT community along with transgendered people? When it comes down to it the LGBT community is comprised of minorities that face significant discrimination based on not falling within hetero-normative societal norms. There are also the issues of gender conformity. Look beyond the surface and you’ll find we all have a lot in common.

  13. Lymis says

    If they had picked a specific cisgendered girl out and said, “All the other girls can use the girls restroom, but you, specifically, cannot” it most certainly would NOT be a case of “no evidence of deliberate indifference with respect to plaintiff’s claims of education discrimination” – it would be seen as absolutely insupportable harassment and discrimination.

    This student is a girl. She should be treated as one. If she’s leering at the other girls or doing anything else inappropriate, that should also be treated the same way it would be treated if another girl did it.

  14. William says


    Lesbians are homosexual and gay men are homosexual. Therefore, it makes sense to refer to these folks as a common group. “Transgender” is an umbrella term that includes a variety of people, including transvestites and transsexuals and anyone who behaves in a gender nonconformist way. Most of these people are straight. It makes absolutely no sense to lump gays and bis in with them. Might we have “some things in common” with them? Maybe, but we probably also have things in common with professional bowlers and Aleutian Islanders and every other group in the world. This fraudulent business of lumping gays in with transsexuals needs to end.

  15. jason says

    No amount of exogenous hormones or surgery will change the fact that you are a man. Your sex chromosomes don’t change.

  16. JESSICA says

    @WILLIAM: Bisexual people aren’t homosexual, and may be in a long-term relationship with someone of the opposite gender. Will you dump them too?

    LGBT is a grouping of people who are discriminated against for reasons that some believe to be a choice. Also a lot of T people are gay/bi, or identified as such before they transitioned. Why abandon someone just because you have differences?

  17. says

    Mikenola – all i’m wondering is why you’re on here rambling like a loon, making it clear that you dont’ know any transgendered or transitioning people.

    i know many. including, at this time, many transitioning teens.

    so, i suggest you get off your @ss and go talk to them.

    it’s 2012 – there are no excuses to not know as much as you don’t know.

  18. MrRoboto says

    I’m not sure about anyone else here on Towleroad, but at the high school I went to, all doors on bathroom stalls were removed to prevent illicit drug use and other prohibited behaviors by the students. If you had to sit down to do your business, you did it on full display of everyone else in the room. I’ve asked many other people about this when this transgender bathroom issue comes up and the majority of people I’ve talked with about it also went to high schools with no doors on the stalls. So I absolutely understand the problem for these transitioning individuals. If it’s embarrassing enough for a 14 year old boy to take a crap and wipe in front of his male classmates, imagine how mortifying it is for a transgender girl trapped in the wrong body. High school students are a cruel lot. It’s sad how often our schools back that cruelty up.

  19. thedrdonna says

    @William: Gender nonconformity is a longtime part of the gay culture, including drag queens and gender nonconformists. Many trans folk come out as gay or bi before eventually fully coming out as trans. Given that most people who transition will spend some portion of their life being perceived as LGB, thus being romantically attracted to someone who is the same gender appearance as them, they have plenty of overlap. Also, as far as I have seen, people in the trans* community tend not to like being associated with people who crossdress for fetishistic purposes. Those people tend to maintain their cisgender privilege, and they do not have the same struggles or challenges that most trans* people face. If you don’t include paraphilic crossdressers under the trans* umbrella, I am not sure how confidently one can say that “most” trans folk are straight. The only recent study I’ve seen was specifically for trans women, and it found that something like 1/3 identified as straight, 1/3 as bi, and 1/3 as lesbian. Obviously that could be very different for trans men, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that among trans women, at least, being straight is not “more” common.

  20. says

    Are any of these individuals with their lawsuits actually attending school?, getting decent grades and not skipping classes? The cry for attention these daysat school sometimes supersedes these…

  21. says

    behind every anti-trans gay man is a cowardly little boy who still lives in fear of bigots.

    real men, for what it’s worth, stand in solidarity with their transgendered and transitioning brothers and sisters.

  22. crash2parties says

    @William, perhaps you are unaware in your assimilist-gay-man definition of transgender that a man loving or lusting after another man is itself, quite gender variant? By setting forth your definition you clearly define ‘gay’ as a specific subset of transgender. Well done!

  23. Juno Krahn says

    There are plenty of comments that illustrate how uninformed people are on transgenderism. If you really want to understand, you should experience a situation where all bathrooms are off limits.

    One day, we will have only gender neutral bathroom with privacy stalls, and all of this bathroom access nonsense will be historical, sort of like living in caves.