Transgender Law Center

This Trans Student Just Won A Landmark $800,000 Settlement Against His School District

"If someone’s telling you that you don’t deserve [acceptance], prove them wrong.”

A trans student in Wisconsin has won a landmark $800,000 settlement against the school district that refused to let him use the boy’s bathroom.

After administrators at Kenosha Unified School District allegedly threatened Ash Whitaker and subjected him to daily surveillance, he filed suit in 2016. And he won: The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Whitaker was unfairly discriminated against because of his gender identity, and granted him permission to use the correct bathroom.

The district appealed and was prepared to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But it agreed to withdraw as a condition of this week’s settlement.

The Seventh Circuit ruling now affirms transgender students’ protections under both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution.

“The precedent… is definitive,” said Kris Hayashi of the Transgender Lew Center, which represented Whitaker, a statement. “Schools cannot single students out because they are trans. Period.”

Whitaker, now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says he’s “relieved” this phase of his life is over.

“Winning this case was so empowering and made me feel like I can actually do something to help other trans youth live authentically,” he told the center. “My message to other trans kids is to respect themselves and accept themselves and love themselves. If someone’s telling you that you don’t deserve that, prove them wrong.”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.