A federal inmate—a biological male—serving time in Texas for child pornography offenses, asked the federal courts for two things: 1) to change the name on his judgment of committal from Norman Keith Varner to Kathrine Nicole Jett, to reflect that he “came out” as a woman in 2015, and 2) that the court use his new name and his “preferred” female pronouns whenever it conducted proceedings with regard to his first request, lest the court be guilty of “gender identity discrimination.” Both requests made it all the way to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals headquartered in New Orleans.
Regarding his first request, the 5th Circuit denied Varner the right to change his name on the legal papers that ordered him to prison. It then looked at his second request and ruled that no court, and no government entity, has any legal obligation to address litigants by their preferred pronouns.
Why is that important?
Forcing courts and government entities to comply to such a request/demand “could raise delicate questions about judicial impartiality,” said the majority opinion. Courts are already in the very center of the heated public debate over issues of sex and gender identity. To require them to use preferred pronouns would give the impression that it had taken sides on the ultimate issues they are being asked to decide. Congress can and has legislated with regard to transgender identity, but it has remained silent on subjects such as pronoun use by federal agencies and courts. The 5th Circuit was loathe to create such a right and usurp Congress’ authority.
Next, the court observed that according to the various lexicons regarding gender identity circulating across the Internet, there are numerous pronouns that could be involved, not just “he” and “she.” For example, other choices on the lists include “fae,” “e/ey,” “per,” “they,” “ve,” “xe,” and “ze/zie,” among others. If courts and all the parties were required to use everyone’s preferred pronouns, it would create chaos.
The 5th Circuit’s ruling should help refute the transgender lobby’s argument that transgender people are entitled to change the English language to suit them. Forcing the rest of us to use terms that are in contradiction to God’s Word regarding the creation of men and women and are an affront to our First Amendment free speech rights, is a form of tyranny. The 5th Circuit was right to reject the prisoner’s request.