A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Fighting for Coy

Coy Mathis


This is Coy Mathis. She’s six years old and, until recently, attended first grade at a school in the Fountain-Fort Carson School District in Colorado. In December 2012 Coy’s school contacted her parents, Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis, and told them that Coy would no longer be allowed to use the girls’ restroom, as she has done since Kindergarten.

You see, Coy Mathis was assigned “male” at birth. But she has known since she was able to know things that she is a girl.

You’re probably imagining a horrific tale of parental complaints and classroom bullying, but none of that has happened.  The school district has decided to preemptively address a problem that does not exist, but that they imagine might occur in the future.

From Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis:

They gave Coy three options for where to go to the bathroom; the boys’ room, the staff bathroom with adults, or the nurse’s bathroom which is used by sick children.

Coy is not sick, she is not an adult, and she is not a boy.

Coy is a girl. She wears girls’ clothes, is addressed by everyone at the school using female pronouns, and has been accepted by her classmates and teachers as a girl. But if the school separates her from all her classmates to use the bathroom, they are singling her out for mistreatment, and teaching her classmates that it’s okay to discriminate.

Coy’s parents have removed her from school and have brought suit against the school district. The attorney for the district, W. Kelly Dude, provided the following explanation (using male pronouns to describe Coy):

The school “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.” He went on to add, “However, I’m certain you can appreciate that as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls’ restroom.” (via Housing Works Advocate)

The fact that Coy first told her parents that something was wrong with her body when she was four–the fact that Coy’s doctors have diagnosed her with gender identity disorder and recommended that she live as, and be treated as, a girl–well, the facts of Coy’s life and identity apparently don’t count. But imaginary possible future student discomfort and parent complaints? These are IMPORTANT and we MUST ACT NOW. You know, just in case.

Here’s Coy’s mom Kathryn Mathis on how Coy described the feelings she was having:

“She just kept crying and said she was scared that she was going to grow up and have a beard and a hairy chest and everybody would know she was born a boy.”

Seriously? This is all my kid would ever have to say to me (and it should be all anyone needs to hear). And I would fight the whole world to protect her right to be who she is.

We can all join the Mathis family in fighting for Coy by signing their petition on Change.org.You can also contact the Fountain-Fort Carson School District and let them know what you think. Let’s make a world that loves, accepts, and celebrates Coy and kids like her for who they are.



I went looking for news on the case, and there isn’t much, but I wanted to include this from Coy’s mom, which goes a bit farther toward explaining the process they went to before deciding the right way to proceed. From Huffington Post:

“It was kind of a long process because she had been telling us for some time, and we thought, ‘Well maybe it’s a phase, maybe if we just confirm to her that she really is a boy?’ you know, try and encourage her toward boy things, then her phase would be over maybe,” Kathryn Mathis said. “So it really took a lot of learning, research on our part because she was consistently telling us the same thing, that she was a girl. So we read lots of books, we contacted lots of support groups. We contacted her pediatrician and a child psychologist and it was very lengthy. And eventually we were told that we needed to support her and how she was, and you know, how she really was.”

Jill Filipovic also writes about Coy in a recent article on the Guardian.

Watch a 17 minute Dateline video featuring Coy: Crossover Kids


From the New York Times (6/23/13):

In a sharply worded ruling, the division concluded that the Fountain-Fort Carson School District needlessly created a situation in which the student, Coy Mathis, would be subject to harassment when it barred her from the girls’ bathroom even though she clearly identified as female.

Telling Coy “that she must disregard her identity while performing one of the most essential human functions constitutes severe and pervasive treatment, and creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive,” Steven Chavez, the division director, wrote in the decision.

The dispute over whether Coy, 6, should be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom was seen by some as a critical test of how state antidiscrimination laws were applied to transgender students.

Read more at NYT.

26 responses

  1. the 6 year old has 3 or 4 older sisters, prob just imitating them, if the other kids think its a girl then ok but if the girls feel like a boy is in the toilets then no go, the majority of kids are the ones to focus on, sometimes we all get a bit too pc, are the other 2 triplets girls?, the parents are not doing a good thing here

    April 28, 2013 at 6:39 am

    • You know, you’re making a lot of assumptions here that tell me you haven’t really read the material or understood the situation. I read about this family and have continued doing so (you can, too, here and elsewhere), and what I got out of my reading is that they spent a LOT of time with Coy and her doctors learning about what was going on with her before they made the decision to support a transition. This is not a case of parents coddling a child’s whims–their child was MISERABLE until they figured out what was wrong and let her be who she is. Now she’s a happy, well-adjusted child, and doesn’t seem the slightest bit “confused” to anyone who meets her.

      April 28, 2013 at 6:50 am

  2. chatalee

    I signed their petition. It’s still open. What an amazing loving and beautiful family.

    April 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm

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  6. Jennifer Lynn

    For whatever it is worth, I think the school is in a tough place here. There are people and children alike that aren’t ready for this. By allowing her to use the adult/nurse bathrooms, the school is trying to make a special case for her so that she doesn’t have to use the boys bathroom. (Actually I would think use of the boys bathroom would be equally problematic for the parents who aren’t okay with this) I have to agree with the school here…they’re trying to make everyone happy by allowing the girl access to bathrooms that nobody else has (so she isn’t forced to use the boys)…and by allowing the parents of the sheltered children some “peace of mind” or whatever it is they want.

    If my kid went to the school, I’d be tentatively alright with it, but I probably wouldn’t have had the transgender/identity conversation with my kid at that age yet…this would kind of force it to happen early.

    We can disagree with the parents who aren’t okay with this all we want…but attacking them and trying to force it down their throats (not saying anyone here is doing that) isn’t the right course of action. Change takes time and understanding…and I have to support the school in their chosen middleground here since hopefully their decision is keeping as many parties happy as possible. Could be worse.

    March 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

    • If anyone had complained, we’d be having a different conversation. But no one has. No one is attacking parents. I strongly disagree with what the school is doing in this case. If children were confused and taking that confusion home and parents were concerned, then a conversation needs to happen about how to move forward. That’s not what happened here.

      March 16, 2013 at 10:28 am

    • y do u need to have the talk about trans with them? parents these days dont let kids learn about the world or have a few scraps and scrapes

      April 28, 2013 at 6:42 am

  7. What strikes me is that the story starts so beautifully, with the parents accepting Coy, her classmates accepting her- all the difficulties so many have just not being there- and then someone clumps in and spoils it all. Why?

    They have stalls, as someone says, and if she behaves inappropriately in a bathroom she may be corrected, like any other child.

    Gender identity incongruence would be better. The identity does not fit the other primary sex characteristics. The identity is not “disordered”.

    March 13, 2013 at 12:49 am

    • Thanks for commenting, Claire. I think you’re absolutely right.

      March 14, 2013 at 9:31 am

  8. craftspagan

    I love it not when adult humans act like asses.

    That young girl deserves better.

    March 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm

  9. lexikatscan

    Reblogged this on Italian Blonde: Lost In Translation / Italiana Bionda: Perso Nella Traduzione and commented:
    This breaks my heart. If the all-knowing school district can see that far in a child’s path, then they can kick out all the potential murderers, rapists, drug addicts, etc.
    Thank you.
    Please reblog!!

    March 11, 2013 at 4:59 pm

  10. Coy, you are in my heart. Parents, you are CHAMPIONS! for raising your daughter in such a way that she experiences the freedom to express herself and be understood. What a wonderful environment of trust. Gender Identity Disorder? Hmmm. Coy knows who she is. Apparently part of your being here is to educate those of us who are scared and don’t understand… yet. Don’t worry too much, Dear One. There are many of us who now surround you with Love and Light. And clearly, your parents hold you in their hearts.

    March 11, 2013 at 4:10 pm

  11. Coy has my heart. Her wisdom is palpable and her parents are CHAMPIONS for raising her in an environment that allows her to express herself at such a tender age. I am in awe of this. One of things that strikes me is the ‘diagnosis’: Gender Identity Disorder. Hmmm.
    Perhaps. But not in Coy’s experience. She apparently knows who she is.

    March 11, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    • Yes! She knows exactly who she is and I’m so glad she was born to people who get it. As for the term, it will likely change in the near future.

      March 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

  12. Melanie

    There are so many levels of wrong here. Coy is being made to feel bad for her individuality. Her parents have essentially been told they are raising her wrong for allowing her to be who she feels she is. Her friends and classmates have been made to feel wrong for accepting her. Everyone who has done right is being made to feel wrong, while those who have done wrong are attempting to promote themselves as right.

    March 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    • Yeah, you summed that up nicely. I really, really hope they end up having to backpedal and apologize.

      March 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      • Melanie

        Their petition is close. I hope your post gets them closer. They only need just over 5,000 more signatures. The teachers and administrators could learn from their students, the students who have accepted Coy without question, if they’d open their minds and hearts to the lesson.

        March 11, 2013 at 2:24 pm

  13. I dont undertand the argument about genitals, surly the kids are in separate stalls when they pee. And since the school are unaware that coy will probably receive hormone blocking treatments as she gets older they clearly do not understand the situation

    March 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    • Yes, their words and actions betray a startling level of ignorance, don’t they? Scary.

      March 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

  14. Who knows better than the child in regards to what the child is? No one. She is a girl.

    March 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    • Hear, hear!

      March 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    • it ia a triplet with 3 sisters, prob just confused

      April 28, 2013 at 6:43 am

      • Rae

        One girl and two boys including Coy. The other sister has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair bound.

        May 22, 2017 at 5:38 pm

        • Coy is a girl.

          May 23, 2017 at 10:00 am

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