Rolling Stone's November 7th issue features an in-depth story featuring 6 year old trans girl, Coy Mathis from Colorado. Coy was thrust into the spotlight after her elementary school suddenly denied her the right to use the girl's bathroom.
The school had been accepting of Coy's gender identity, but when she started 1st grade and the genders became more segregated, school officials decided that allowing Coy to use the correct restroom would set the wrong precedent. However Colorado had recently expanded their non-discrimination law to include gender expression. The Mathis' with the help of GLAAD and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights and launched a change.org petition to allow Coy to use the correct restroom amassing over 65,000 signatures. We worked very closely with the family to tell Coy's story, describe the discrimination she faced and raise awareness about the needs and challenges facing transgender youth.
Rolling Stone did a great job capturing the Mathis' process of understanding their transgender daughter and the lengths they went to protect her. From accepting her gender expression at a very young age, educating themselves about transgender youth to attending the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference and creating community with other families, the article ran the gamut of challenges and triumphs the family faced.
The article also mirrored the parents' pronoun transition. After a sustainable length of time and a consistent identification as a girl, they realized that Coy was no longer 'he' but 'she'. GLAAD spoke to Rolling Stone' s writer about the inconsistent pronouns and they explained that the narrative was about the parents' journey and frame of mind. When the Mathis' had concrete confirmation that Coy was indeed a transgender girl they immediately corrected their pronouns as the article documented. GLAAD's Media Reference Guide states that media should avoid pronoun confusion when examining the stories and backgrounds of transgender people prior to their transition. It is usually best to report on transgender people's stories from the present day instead of narrating them from some point or multiple points in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.
Coy's story is a part of a larger movement in which not only are transgender people becoming more visible and more vocal about their right to inclusion but allies in government are taking steps towards equality as well. California recently introduced The School's Success and Opportunity Act, or AB 1266 a bill that would ensure that transgender students have equal access to facilities and activities that match their gender identity. The bill has had its fair number of detractors however. The Pacific Journal Institute fabricated a story about a transgirl harassing other girls in the high school restroom. A conglomerate of anti-LGBT activist have created the "privacy for students" referendum against the bill. The referendum hopes to garner enough support to suppress AB 1266. Groups like National Organization for Marriage and Pacific Justice Institute are using the same fear mongering tactics as with the efforts against marriage equality.
We would like to thank Rolling Stone magazine for its complete and accurate coverage of Coy Mathis' story.