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Court Awards Transgender Teen $75,000 in Lawsuit

Nicole Maines, transgender teen, wins $75,000 in discrimination lawsuit
Photograph by AP

It's been a pretty big year for transgender equality, all things considered. If you remember, there was Meghan Stabler, who became the first transgender "Working Mother of the Year." Then came 13-year-old Rachel Pepe, who fought back after being ousted from her middle school for coming out as transgender (and won). And in July, we listened as mom Debi Jackson spoke passionately before a room full of strangers about her 6-year-old's transition, in a speech that moved us all to tears.

But there was also Nicole Maines, the 17-year-old who first made headlines over a year ago, when she filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Orono school district. She had been told she couldn't use the boy's or the girl's bathroom—instead, she had to use the faculty restrooms. By January 2014, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court had found that the school's ruling clearly violated the Human Rights Act, and Maines won her case. It marked the first time ever that a state's highest court ruled that a person has the right to use the restroom of whichever gender they identify with.

Though the ruling came earlier this year, the financial settlement took a bit longer, with a lower court finally awarding the teen's family, as well as the activist organization Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders $75,000 on November 25. The school district is also prohibited from ever refusing transgender students access "to school restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity."

Despite making its way to the courts in 2014, the discrimination actually started back in 2007 when the grandfather of one of Maines' fifth grade classmates complained to the school that Maines was using the girls' restroom. After the complaint came in, the Orono school district made the decision to have Maines to use a staff facility instead, which led her parents to take legal action.

Photo via Facebook

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