The official guidance states that criminal defendants may be called whatever gender they wish in court.

  • Guidance: Trans defendants should have their privacy respected by the court
  • This 540-page “Equal Treatment Bench Book” provides the latest guidance to the judiciary
  • Reporting bans on the disclosure of birth names or history should be filed if necessary
  • In some cases, even witnesses might be required to use proper pronouns while giving evidence 

The rights of transgender criminal defendants must be protected during their journey through the criminal justice process. This includes reporting restrictions that restrict the disclosure of birth-assigned names or gender histories.

The Judicial College’s 540-page ‘Equal Treatment Bench Book’ document aims to increase awareness and understanding about the various circumstances of individuals appearing before courts and tribunals.

The Times reported that the most recent revision of this document advises courts to refrain from using pronouns and gendered languages wherever they are possible.

The situation of an offender who is now male and has to refer to them in court with their preferred pronoun raises another issue.

Chair of the college and Appeal Court judge, Lady Justice King (pictured) said the guidance is a 'dynamic document' which has served as a key reference to courts

Lady Justice King, Chair of the College and Appeal Court Judge (pictured), said that the guidance was a “dynamic document” which serves as an important reference for courts.

This guidance states: “There might be circumstances where the rights to refer to a Trans person using pronouns matching their gender assign at birth or other information, conflict with the right to privacy of the Trans person.” 

The court stated that in rare cases where disclosures of a person’s transgender history or previous names are necessary, it may be possible for the court to impose reporting restrictions.

Lady Justice King is the chair of the college, and an Appeal Court judge. She said the guidance has been used as a key reference by courts. They have also been ‘admired’ and ‘encouraged’ around the globe.   

The college recommends that judges adopt a neutral term for flight attendants instead of air hostess and chairmen instead of chairman. 

‘It is important to respect a person’s gender identity by using appropriate terms of address, names and pronouns. Everybody has the right of respect for their private and gender identities, as well as personal dignity’, it states.

It also said that the term “queer” is quickly becoming accepted as an umbrella term to describe those who aren’t narrowly heterosexual or not cisgender, i.e., identify with their birth gender.

Stonewall states that queer is a term used to describe young people, especially those who are not identified with the traditional gender identification categories. 

It has been associated with many arts and cultural movements all over the globe, as well as entered academic discourse.

‘Nevertheless [the term queer]It is considered to be derogatory by certain LGBT people, so it should not be used’.

The college said that in criminal cases involving violence against women, they objected to the use of the word “victim”, as it could imply helplessness and passivity. Others may prefer “survivor” because it can indicate resilience.