Lawyers will now have to specify pronouns in courts in British Columbia

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12/24/2020

Lawyers, witnesses, defendents, and other individuals in court proceedings in British Columbia will now have to specify a gendered title – Mr., Ms., Mx., or “Counsel” – to ensure that the court addresses them correctly. “I would do a better job for my client, if I’m not thinking about being misgendered,” said Vancouver lawyer Lisa Nevens, who is non-binary. Currently, lawyers appearing in court in the province have to tell the court their first and last names and how to spell them, than they do the same for their clients. But at no point are they asked their pronouns, which can lead to a situation where someone is misgendered but they don’t feel like it’s their place to interrupt the court proceedings to correct the speaker. “Your job as a lawyer is to represent your clients, not to make statements about your own identity,” Nevens told CTV News. “You have to debate with yourself, whether you should assert your correct pronouns and gender identity in court, so that you’re properly recognized or whether that’s a distraction from the client.” A new directive issued by the Provincial Court of British Columbia earlier this month will require people in court proceedings to “advise the Court” of “their pronouns and form of address.”

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