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The Ontario Court of Justice issued a notice to the profession and the public announcing that it will require all parties to state their preferred pronouns upon their introduction to the judge at any in-person or virtual event. 

Lawyers must also state the pronouns of their clients, witnesses or any other individual who is called before the court. 

“At the beginning of any in-person, virtual or hybrid hearings, when lawyers are introducing themselves, their client, a witness or another individual, they should provide the judge or justice of the peace with each person’s name, title (e.g. Mr., Mrs., Mx., Counsel “X”) and pronouns to be used in the hearing,” reads the notice released on Thursday. 

The notice written by Sharon Nicklas, Chief Justice Ontario Court of Justice says that “if counsel does not provide this information in their introduction, they may be invited by a court clerk to provide this information.”

“At the beginning of each court session, court clerks have been asked by Court Services Division to announce that parties appearing before the court are invited to provide their title and pronouns to the court,” it added. 

News of this new requirement, posted to X by the Ontario Court of Justice received strong pushback online, without any positive feedback in the comments thus far.

“Ah so this is the thing where rape victims have to pretend that their rapist is a woman, right? Very stunning and brave,” wrote Jonathan Kay, an author with Quilette. 

Another user wrote, “seems odd to start a court proceeding with a requirement for perjury.”

“You are forcing a new language onto the people that aims to distort, alter or make reality indescribable. It is manipulation & coercion in order to cater to a belief system that has dominated society. This is exactly what the Party did in Orwell’s 1984,” wrote another user. 

Some argue this change in practice will make it easier for biological males who identify as women to be tried as a woman, therefore allowing them to serve any potential jail time in a women’s jail or prison.

According to Heather Mason, a former federal prisoner and founding member of Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights, 44% of men (in prison) who identify as women are sex offenders.

“So every time I get a name, I request their parole document. And a majority of them are dangerous offenders, or they have long sentences and they can’t get parole so what they’re doing is because they can’t get out, then all of a sudden they’re requesting a transfer to a women’s prison,” Mason told True North in an interview last year.