Is Caitlyn Jenner brainwashing teens to become trans? Obviously not — that’s absurd on the face of it. Besides, we’re sure she’s got a busy schedule of being terrible to contend with. But Ohio Judge Joseph Kirby thinks she is, and denied a trans teen’s name-change request.
Elliott Whitaker came out to his parents as trans a year ago. His parents have been supportive, and have been helping him with his transition. He’s 15 years old, and he and his parents wanted to take care of his legal name change now, so when he’s old enough to get his driver’s license, it’ll have the correct name on it. With the name change, he’d also be able to use his correct name on college applications, as that process will start soon as well.
Leigh Whitaker, Elliott’s mother, said of the name-change process, “We thought it was just a formality, basically.” And normally it is — typically, the judge only wants to make sure that the name change isn’t part of an attempt to commit fraud.
Unfortunately for the Whitakers, Judge Joseph Kirby wasn’t going to stand by with Caitlyn Jenner brainwashing teens out there. Kirby asked a number of bizarre questions about Elliott’s transition. He wanted to know if it happened after Caitlyn Jenner‘s transition was reported on.
Kirby also repeatedly misgendered Elliott and referred to him by his deadname. The judge met with the Whitakers for 15 to 20 minutes, according to Kylen Whitaker, Elliott’s father. He then ruled that because “children change significantly and rapidly,” that he would deny Elliott’s legal name-change, saying he could apply again as an adult.
In the ruling, Judge Joseph Kirby wrote that he “must consider the best interests of the child,” and ruled that Elliott was “simply not ready to make this life-altering decision” — despite that the Whitakers had the support of Elliott’s therapists and doctors.
One particularly upsetting bit about Judge Joseph Kirby’s decision is the footnote in which he explains why he’s misgendering Elliott throughout the ruling. Kirby wrote, “The Court is aware of the fact that using a pronoun as it pertains to a person’s sex (which is their biological characteristics) as opposed to a pronoun for a person’s gender (which is that person’s social identity) is offensive to the transgender community. As a compromise, the Court attempted to use the singular, gender-netural third person ‘they’ pronoun in place of him/her and she/him, as introduced by the Associated Press’ Stylebook; however it made the entry difficult to read and comprehend. Therefore, the Court opted to use the pronoun associated with the child’s sex and not their preferred gender. No disrespect is meant to the child in this decision.”
Or, a shorter version — “I know why using the wrong pronouns is bad, but I don’t care. No offense.”
The same day, Judge Joseph Kirby denied two other requests for trans people wanting to change their names. But, Kirby has granted name-changes in the past.
The Whitakers are appealing Judge Kirby’s decision. The 12th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case.