TIME magazine released its annual "100 Most Influential People" list on Wednesday. The list is broken into several groups, including Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, Titans, and Icons. The Pioneers category features this year's youngest addition to the list — 17-year-old transgender rights activist Gavin Grimm.
The teen has made headlines for his legal battle to use the boys' restroom at his Virginia high school. Grimm faced a setback in March when the Supreme Court chose not to hear his case and sent it back to a lower appeals court, which will determine if Title IX applies to gender identity discrimination, as former President Obama argued it did in a 2016 guidance revoked in February.
"As someone who also transitioned in high school, I know intimately how freeing and fraught it can be to live your truth," Mock wrote of Grimm's decision to come out to his classmates at 15. She goes on to describe parents' complaints about Grimm's use of the boys' bathroom as "making a universal private experience a public spectacle."
Mock closes the piece with this beautiful tribute to Grimm's fight for acceptance:
Now 17, Gavin is the cherubic face of a reductive, dirty debate about trans people's right to exist in public spaces without hostility, harassment and violence. His case, which remains ongoing in Virginia, has implications that extend far beyond bathrooms. It's about a greater sense of belonging for us all—at school, at home and in our neighborhoods and places of work and worship. So many are made to feel as if they should hide, pretend or perish. Gavin's refusal to be treated unjustly is an enduring reminder that we will not be stayed.
Grimm thanked Mock for her words on Twitter, and added that he hopes his inclusion on TIME's list sends the message that "trans people are people, and we aren't going anywhere."
"It's been an absolute whirlwind," Grimm says of his experience in a video from TIME. "I've had opportunities that I wouldn't have otherwise had. But it's never lost on me that I've had these experiences because of a conversation that should never have happened."
When asked by the publication what he wants to be when he grows up, Grimm had a simple answer: "I want to be someone who doesn't have to justify his bathroom use."
Hear more from Gavin Grimm in the video below: