Trans teen girl left with broken jaw after attack at high school

a placard reading protect trans lives

Police in Minnesota are investigating after a trans teenager was left with a broken jaw after she was attacked at school.

The incident took place at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, 10 miles west of Minneapolis, when 17-year-old Cobalt Sovereign went to use the toilet after the school day ended.

Sovereign, who came out as trans in 2021, said a male student leaned over the stall she was using and repeatedly called her a homophobic slur and when she left, he punched her in the jaw.

In a video interview with Kare 11, Sovereign said: “One of my teeth exploded, there was pieces in my mouth and my jaw was broken in two places… one of my molars up in the top shattered.”

The trans teen went on to say the assault has left her with nightmares.

While the school does have gender-inclusive toilets, these are often in use and out of the way, she said, adding that although she is very uncomfortable using the men’s toilets, she chooses to do so because she would “rather be uncomfortable than make other people uncomfortable by using the women’s”.

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Speaking to local press, Sovereign’s brother Wilder said he was disgusted by what happened.

“She was punched in the jaw and sucker punched so badly that she had to go to the hospital later and receive jaw surgery to treat the damage,” he said.

“She’s experienced glimmers of transphobia before, as most if not all trans people do. But it’s never been this bad, it’s never gone to the point of full-on assault.”

Students, members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies supported Sovereign by rallying outside the school on Wednesday (5 June). Fox 9 reported that hundreds of people gathered with Pride flags and messages of love.

Hannah Edwards, the director of Transforming Families Minnesota and an organiser of the rally, said: “Our trans youth deserve protection. They deserve love, they deserve safety and an equal opportunity to learn at their public schools.”

Speaking directly to trans youngsters, Edwards added: “You are worthy of safety. You are worthy of dignity and a life full of opportunities. You are beautiful just as you are. Know that we’re here, know that we are watching and we are looking forward to helping you do better so that this will never happen again.”

Former Hopkins High student Jae Bates told Fox 9 that safety was not a major concern for him when he was a pupil.

“That never crossed my mind a day in my entire life being a student here,” he said. “And so it’s sad to me, as a trans adult, that trans youth today, a decade later, are less safe than I was.”

Freshman Oliver Ridley branded the situation insane, saying: “I don’t want to live in fear, I don’t want any student at the school to live in fear that they’re going to walk out of the bathroom and get their jaw broken.”

Minnetonka police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime because it was “an act of violence that… involved a student who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community”.

District officials declined to comment until the investigation is completed but described the school as an “inclusive community that values diversity and inclusion”, adding: “We will address any issues that compromise the safety and inclusivity of our school environment. We support and stand by any group that is marginalised, including our LGBTQ+ scholars and staff.”

In a letter to families, principal Crystal Ballard said that while the assault has not yet been officially deemed a hate crime, even the thought of an attack of this nature can be traumatising, CBS News reported.

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