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Court and enforced use of 'preferred' pronouns

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AssignedPuuurfectAtBirth Mon 16-Apr-18 16:49:11

I am still aghast that Maria McLachlan was repeatedly instructed by a judge to use female pronouns for Tara Wood, who had assualted her at Speakers' Corner.

Tara Wood is scientifically male.

Maria McLachlan was instructed to do this, by a Judge, while under oath to tell the truth, in a Court of Law.

What would have happened if Maria had refused to do it on account of it not being the truth?

Anyone know the legal position on this?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 16-Apr-18 16:53:30

I am still aghast that Maria McLachlan was repeatedly instructed by a judge to use female pronouns for Tara Wood, who had assualted her at Speakers' Corner

Don't forget the judge actually reduced the defendants sentence because McLachlan kept forgetting to use the "correct" gender.

I am amazed that a judge could behave so bizarrely.

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 16:54:19

I guess potentially the judge could have held her in contempt of court in that he asked her to use a particular pronoun and she disobeyed him. Disobeying a judge is contempt. I think that would have gone a bit far though.

As for the truth bit, it doesn’t really go to the truth of her evidence so I don’t think she could have used that as a defence to being held in contempt.

In reality I think it’s more likely that the judge would have made a show of asking her to do it several times and then giving up essentially if she refused to do it. He would have created a lot more work for himself if he chucked her in a cell for using the ‘wrong’ pronouns....

CircleSquareCircleSquare Mon 16-Apr-18 16:59:26

I’m surprised this hasn’t some how been made a bigger deal of in the press.
A woman was forced by a judge to lie under oath about a scientific fact in order to spare feelings.

Judges can surely not put more weight on feelings over fact?

ILikeMyChickenFried Mon 16-Apr-18 17:00:34

Excuse my ignorance but are wit eases in vases like this asked to swear on the bible? Id have serious issues calling a biological male "she". Especially if he had assaulted me...

TurningWood Mon 16-Apr-18 17:01:57

There are male medical doctors encouraging bullying of non compliant women on Twitter. New witch hunters!

womanhuman Mon 16-Apr-18 17:03:27

Are there any avenues open to pursue this legally? Would the victim have to sue the judge for making her perjure herself or something? I’d love for this to be put to a court, not as a side issue in another case, but as the actual reason for being in court.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Mon 16-Apr-18 17:03:31

Does that mean you would be in contempt of court if a rogue judge instructed you to call a man 'she' and you kept forgetting?

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 17:03:41

I think the point is she was not testifying as to the gender/sex of the defendant. She was testifying as to what happened that day. Everyone knew who the defendant was- she was merely being asked to refer to them as a woman. It’s not quite the same as the judge making her lie under oath because none of her evidence related to the defendant’s sex.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Mon 16-Apr-18 17:06:01

But on what basis can a judge enforce the use of pronouns which are not the ones associated with a defendant's legal sex?

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 17:06:03

Are there any avenues open to pursue this legally? Would the victim have to sue the judge for making her perjure herself or something?

I really don't think there are, no. The judge was not making her perjure herself. Everyone knew who she was referring to, i.e. the defendant. It did not change any of the material facts in the witness evidence because even if the defendant had been a woman, they would have been guilty of assault.

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 17:08:27

Does that mean you would be in contempt of court if a rogue judge instructed you to call a man 'she' and you kept forgetting?

Potentially, yes. If you disobey a court order or an instruction from the judge, you can potentially be held in contempt.

But on what basis can a judge enforce the use of pronouns which are not the ones associated with a defendant's legal sex?

They could tell you that unless you refer to the defendant in the way they have asked you to, you will be held in contempt. I really don't think any judge would do this though- it seems so over the top.

cromeyellow0 Mon 16-Apr-18 17:08:55

This was written in to the Bench Book as far back as 2013.
www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/equal-treatment-bench-book-2013-with-2015-amendment.pdf

"Transgender people, whether they are pre or post‐operative trans people or trans people who do not intend to have surgery, should be referred to in their preferred or acquired gender. They should not be addressed as if they remained in the gender that was assigned to them at birth."

serfandterf101 Mon 16-Apr-18 17:10:57

catt.desk@gmail.com

check out Bella Bailey @cattdeskatgmail - they are writing to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office about this - asking if it is now law that female victims of male violence must now perjure themselves by calling the defendant "she" - you can add your name by DMing her.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Mon 16-Apr-18 17:14:55

OK, thanks Susan and crome. So it would be a case of taking the bench book to court then!

TheCrowFromBelow Mon 16-Apr-18 17:15:22

^^ see the Bench Book quite above - the judge was following official guidelines, and in the judge’s court you do what the judge says.

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 17:19:05

It will be interesting to see how they respond. I am guessing there will be a neutral fob-off saying that the judge did not make the witness perjure herself. That is true- he did not. Perjury relates to the material elements of the witness testimony. The defendant's sex was not material to this because there was no confusion over the identity of the person who punched Ms McLachlan. This related solely to how they were referred to in court.

It was a good verdict though. I understand Ms McLachlan's desire to refer to the defendant as a man, but I don't think complaining about the judge's conduct will get very far because as crome posted, he was following the guidelines and this had nothing to do with perjury.

felicitythemangyfox Mon 16-Apr-18 17:19:53

@ItsAllGoingToBeFine

Can you link to the sentencing issue you refer to?

(I've googled but can't find anything)

Thanks

TurningWood Mon 16-Apr-18 17:21:14

Google, right to be forgotten has been invoked already?

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 17:21:21

So it would be a case of taking the bench book to court then!

You could try...

cromeyellow0 Mon 16-Apr-18 17:22:19

Major problems with this policy in the courts:

1) It establishes self-identification by stealth, which is apparently not based on any law passed by Parliament.

2) A witness who has to devote mental attention to using the 'correct' i.e. false pronouns will be hindered from giving coherent and truthful answers.

3) We naturally intuit that females are less willing and less able to inflict violence than males, and so continual reference to a male as 'she' may subconsciously affect assessments of threat.

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 17:22:31

Don't forget the judge actually reduced the defendants sentence because McLachlan kept forgetting to use the "correct" gender.

I missed that. Are you sure???

SusanBunch Mon 16-Apr-18 17:30:38

Have read the sentencing remarks. He did not reduce the sentence due to how the victim gave evidence. What he said was that there was tension and hostile language on both sides of the debate and he branded the victim ungraceful for refusing to refer to the defendant as 'she'. He said this was further evidence of the tension between the two groups. He did not reduce the sentence in light of it.

Whatever position one takes, it's fair to say that there was tension between the groups- I don't think this falls within the category of the judge acting bizarrely.

felicitythemangyfox Mon 16-Apr-18 17:31:47

Could you please link to the sentencing remarks, Susan? I couldn't find them.

cromeyellow0 Mon 16-Apr-18 17:38:54

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5613057/Model-punched-feminist-smashed-120-camera-violent-brawl-walks-free-court.html#ixzz5Cr1RJRiX

But in giving his verdict, the Judge also branded Miss MacLachlan ungraceful for failing to refer to Wolf as 'she' during the two-day trial.
He said: 'When I asked Miss MacLachlan to refer to the defendant as she, she did so with bad grace.
'Having asked her to refer to Miss Wolf as she as a matter of courtesy, she continued to refer to Miss Wolf as he and him.
'The language of the debate is antagonistic and hostile.'

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