Parents Sue Judge for Bias Against Transgender Children

CINCINNATI (CN) – In a federal lawsuit, parents say an Ohio judge discriminates against transgender children, denying their name change requests and treating them differently from other children because of his “archaic views.”

Three mothers filed the suit on Aug. 3 in Warren County Common Pleas Court, saying  probate and juvenile court judge Joseph W. Kirby “has a pattern and practice of treating name change requests from transgender adolescents differently than other name change requests,” and denying the requests after numerous personal questions unrelated to the process.

Among other things, the mothers say, Kirby has violated protocol by ordering “that all name change applications from transgender persons be assigned to his docket for a hearing.” Such hearings are usually conducted by a magistrate judge, and Kirby has not conducted any such hearings for non-transgender people in 2018, the mothers say.

Lead plaintiff Stephanie Leigh Whitaker claims that Judge Kirby ignores the advice of medical professionals who suggest name changes, but questions the teens about their lives and “substitute(s) his own archaic views” for those of the doctors.

The mothers say Kirby asks personal questions that and unrelated to a name change. He asked one child, Elliott, which bathroom he uses, whether he has considered gender reassignment surgery and whether he is sexually attracted to women. Citing a court transcription, the mother says Kirby “suggested that Elliott’s expression of his gender identity was not sincere but, instead, was the result of exposure of media coverage of the transition by Caitlyn Jenner.”

Kirby denied Elliott’s request, “stating that (he) cannot apply for a name change again until the minor becomes an ‘adult,’” according to the 22-page lawsuit, with 38 pages of attachments.

On the same day, Kirby denied two other name change applications by transgender children, using “identical language in denying all of the name change requests from transgender adolescents,” the complaint states.

It adds: “In 2018, Judge Kirby has denied each and every name change application by transgender adolescents when he conducted a hearing.”

Only one such application was approved this year, and that was after a hearing with a magistrate judge rather than Kirby, the complaint states.

The mothers say that “Judge Kirby violated the Equal Protection Clause against sex-based discrimination when (he) treated transgender adolescents unfavorably because of their gender identity.”

The mothers seek declaratory judgment that Kirby violated their children’s constitutional right to equal protection of the law and an injunction, plus costs of suit.

They are represented by Joshua Langdon in Cincinnati and Joshua Engel with Engel Martin in Mason, Ohio.

Kirby’s office has not replied to requests for comments. Kirby, a Republican, was elected in 2014.

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