In 2018, Trump appointed Kyle Duncan to a lifelong position as a federal judge. Duncan has a long history of being anti-LGBT and his newest stunt cements that fact: he refused to call a transgender defendant by her correct pronouns and even said that doing so is a courtesy, according to NBC.
Kathrine Nicole Jett is the defendant who requested to have her conviction records revised to match her changed name. The request was denied because apparently there was no error in paperwork because her legal name, Norman Varner is listed on the records. Duncan voided the decision because he said that the lower court had no jurisdiction, but then proceeded to mock Jett’s request to be referred to by female pronouns and her new name.
Duncan also referred to Jett in “he” pronouns and also referred to her as a “gender-dysphoric” person instead of a transgender person. He then mentioned a few cases in which the fifth circuit correctly gendered transgender litigants and then some cases in which it did not. He also said “Congress has said nothing to prohibit courts from referring to litigants according to their biological sex, rather than according to their subjective gender identity” and that correctly gendering a person is a courtesy and not convention. Respecting people is a courtesy? What happened to Duncan’s sense of decency? It doesn’t actually seem that he had it in the first place.
He then goes on to say that courts respecting transgender people the same way that they would cisgender people may tacitly approve of the “litigant’s underlying legal position” and that correctly gender trans people is more complex than it seems at the surface, as he incorrectly cites a list of gender pronouns from University of Wisconsin LGBTQ+ Resource Center that doesn’t appear to exist. Those two arguments are too ridiculous to even think about, so I won’t.
What Duncan did is not surprising given the fact that he was appointed by Trump, but his lack of decency is definitely reprehensible. How hard is it to give people basic respect? For Duncan it seems that it’s the equivalent of climbing Everest.