Tara Wolf (l.), a male transgender youth, led a vicious attack on Maria Maclachlan (r.) at a feminist gathering at Speaker's Corner along with two other young men who also identify as transgender women. Maclachlan was reprimanded by the judge, and later punished with a denial of compensation, because she did not consistently refer to her male attacker with female pronouns throughout testimony.
Tara Wolf (l.), a male transgender youth, led a vicious attack on Maria Maclachlan (r.) at a feminist gathering at Speaker’s Corner along with two other young men who also identify as transgender women. Maclachlan was reprimanded by the judge, and later punished with a denial of compensation, because she did not consistently refer to her male attacker with female pronouns throughout testimony. (Courtesy: right, The Telegraph)

London, England, UK – In March 2019, a new edition of the Equal Treatment Bench Book (ETBB) 2018 was released. The revised edition states that the court should “recognise a person’s gender identity and their present name for nearly all court and tribunal purposes, regardless of whether they have obtained legal recognition of their gender by way of a Gender Recognition Certificate.”

The ETBB further specifies that “(a) person’s gender at birth or their transgender history should not be disclosed unless it is necessary and relevant to the particular legal proceedings.”

The ETBB advice is for the Bench; it is not clear what impact this guidance will have on complainants testifying in court against a male defendant.

However, in April 2018, prior to the new edition of the ETBB, a judged warned a female victim giving evidence that she should refer to her male attacker as “she”, because “(t)he defendant wished to be referred to as a woman”. The defendant, Tara Wolf (née Flik Wood) was found guilty of assaulting Maria Maclachlan and fined £150.

Judge Kenneth Grant refused to grant Ms Maclachlan any compensation, declaring, “It was notable that when I asked Ms Maclachlan to refer to Ms Wolf as ‘she’, she did so with bad grace – having asked her to do so she continued to refer to Ms Wolf as ‘he’ and ‘him'”.

Ms Maclachlan has since stated that it was a “thoughtless and unreasonable expectation” of the judge that she should “lie under oath”. In an interview with Feminist Current, she outlined how difficult it was to try to refer to an individual she perceived as a man as “she”. While watching a video and answering questions about it, Ms Maclachlan says that she “slipped back to using ‘he’ and earned a rebuke from the judge”.

The ETBB guidance also stipulates that “[a]ll transgender prisoners must be supported to express the gender with which they identify whilst in court custody”, and “views on where they would prefer to be located in the prison estate must be taken into account”. The ETBB makes no reference to any risk assessment being required.

Read more on this story:

Equal Treatment Bench Book: Chapter 12 Transgender People
Courts and Tribunals Judiciary
The Equal Treatment Bench Book has been updated, expanded and improved. It aims to increase awareness and understanding of the different circumstances of people appearing in courts and tribunals.

Judges are ordered to allow transgender defendants to be addressed as the gender of their choice during court appearance
Daily Mail
Judges have been told to allow transgender defendants to appear in court in the gender of their choice.

Radical feminist warned to refer to transgender defendant as a ‘she’ during assault case
The Telegraph
A radical feminist has been warned by a judge to refer to the transgender defendant as a “she” during an assault case.

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