Transgender teen hospitalized after alleged attack in high school bathroom

A transgender girl was hospitalized and left with a broken jaw after allegedly being attacked by one of her classmates at a Minnesota high school. 

Cobalt Sovereign, 17, told NBC affiliate KARE 11 this week that she was assaulted on May 30 by a male student while leaving the men’s bathroom at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, a city about 15 miles west of Minneapolis. Sovereign said she was hospitalized for two days and had to have her jaw repaired.

“I was hit in the jaw and at the time one of my teeth exploded, pieces in my mouth,” Sovereign told KARE 11. “My jaw was broken in two places.”

Sovereign said that the male student called her homophobic slurs before hitting her.

“In the bathroom, he had looked over the stall directly where I was attempting to use the bathroom, and that is where he initially called me a f—– in the first place,” Sovereign said. 

Sovereign said she then got up from the bathroom stall and left to verbally confront him.

“He had no reason to have anything against me, I’ve never talked to him, never done anything negative to him,” Sovereign said. “And I was insulted and then eventually hit in the jaw.”

Sovereign said that Hopkins High School has gender neutral bathrooms, but that she didn’t try to use them on the day of the alleged assault because they are usually occupied or out of the way.

“I would rather be uncomfortable than make other people uncomfortable by using the women’s bathroom,” she said.

The Minnetonka Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Without naming Sovereign, the department told KARE 11 this week that they were investigating an incident at Hopkins High School as a “possible hate crime.”

A spokesperson for Hopkins Public Schools said in an email to NBC News that the school district and police “are investigating an act of violence that occurred last Thursday and involved a student who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

“Hopkins Public Schools is an inclusive community that values diversity and inclusion,” the spokesperson wrote. “We will address any issues that compromise the safety and inclusivity of our school environment. We support and stand by any group that is marginalized, including our LGBTQ+ scholars and staff.”

Students, activists and some local lawmakers held a rally outside the school Wednesday to condemn the alleged attack on Sovereign. 

Democratic State Rep. Leigh Finke, the first openly trans person elected to the Minnesota Legislature, posted on Instagram a photo of herself at the rally and compared the alleged attack on Sovereign to the death of Oklahoma student Nex Benedict. 

Benedict, a 16-year-old transgender student who used he/him and they/them pronouns, according to his friends and family members, died by suicide a day after a fight at Owasso High School in February. Benedict’s death became a rallying cry for LGBTQ activists, who argued that historic numbers of anti-trans legislation have made trans kids less safe at school.

“These attacks are too common, and the actions of institutions responsible for our kids are, consistently, underwhelming, negligent, and dangerous,” Finke wrote on her Instagram. “Cobalt lived. Thank goddess. Nex did not. Please help us make sure there is no next time.”

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