Alex McCrayAge 22
4 Jan 2020
St. Louis, Missouri (USA)
Alex died by suicide. In October 2015 he had won a court case over access to gender-appropriate bathroom and locker rooms at his high school.
A transgender student who was at the forefront of the bathroom issue at Williamsville High School several years ago is being remembered as a quiet but fierce trailblazer.
Alex McCray, 22, who was majoring in social work at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, died last week.
Denise Bentele, a Fontbonne spokeswoman, said the school’s interim chief operating officer informed the campus community Friday of McCray’s death. Students were offered counselling. Bentele did not give the nature of McCray’s death.
McCray, who was identified female at birth but identified as a male, filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights in October 2015 over equal access to the gender-appropriate bathroom and locker rooms at the high school. The then-senior enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union in Chicago to reach a settlement with the school allowing him and other students to use facilities that match their gender.
McCray won the ACLU’s John R. Hammell Award for his contribution to fight for equal rights for LGBTQ Americans in 2017. The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance named him activist of the year in 2016.
McCray told The State Journal-Register in 2016 that he was assigned a female identity at birth but transitioned to male his sophomore year in high school.
He said he initially went along with the high school’s decision that he use a separate bathroom because he felt more comfortable. But as he got older and more mature, he decided he wanted to use the boy’s bathroom because that was what he used in other public places.
McCray eventually protested and refused to use the designated bathroom, saying it stigmatized him. That’s also when he decided to file the complaint to force a change, he said.
“I don’t know if Alex saw himself as a pioneer, but he became a pioneer,” said Tonia Faloon-Sullivan, a U.S. history teacher at Williamsville High School, who stayed in touch with McCray.
I just got some devastating news. Alex McCray, a brave and beautiful young man who fought for #transgender rights in rural Illinois, died by suicide today. Supt David Root, another brave soul, died of leukemia a few months after this story aired in 2016. https://t.co/Y2xq8aZoAX— dusty rhodes ?????? (@dustyrhodes919) January 9, 2020