Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, a President Trump appointee, stated this week that courts are under no legal obligation to refer to transgender individuals by their chosen pronouns.
Judge Duncan said there is “nothing to prohibit courts from referring to litigants according to their biological sex, rather than according to their subjective gender identity.“
Duncan went on to refer to Kathrine Nicole Jett, a transgender woman who was known as Norman Varner in previous court hearings, as “gender dysphoric.”
The defendant had asked to change her former name Norman Varner to her new name Kathrine Nicole Jett on previous conviction records as well as change the use of female pronouns. Judge Duncan refused.
“No authority supports the proposition that we may require litigants, judges, court personnel, or anyone else to refer to gender-dysphoric litigants with pronouns matching their subjective gender identity,” Duncan wrote in his opinion.
“But the courts that have followed this ‘convention,’ have done so purely as a courtesy to parties.”
TheHill reports: Duncan also notes in his ruling that while Congress has legislated in specific “gender identity discrimination,” it “has said nothing to prohibit courts from referring to litigants according to their biological sex, rather than according to their subjective gender identity.“
Duncan previously faced pushback from a number of civil rights groups for his views on LGBTQ rights from during his 2018 confirmation to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The groups argued he had a personal agenda to set back LGBTQ rights. Duncan previously served as the appellate counsel for North Carolina officials arguing in favor of a state law banning transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.
“As the majority notes, though no law compels granting or denying such a request, many courts and judges adhere to such requests out of respect for the litigant’s dignity,” Judge James L. Dennis wrote in a dissent to Duncan’s opinion, according to NBC News. Dennis was appointed by former President Clinton.
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