Courts in British Columbia are now mandating that lawyers specify by which pronouns they wish to be addressed. It is hoped this will provide clarity and put more focus on the legal issues.
The new policy now requires lawyers and witnesses appearing in the Provincial and Supreme Courts of British Columbia to not only identify their names, but also their pronouns.
Attorney Lisa Nevens, who uses the pronouns they or them and is non-binary, is the co-chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community for the Canadian Bar Association.
For the past year and a half, Nevens has been introducing themself in court with first and last name, followed by pronouns.
Nevens says the new regulation is a personal relief and allows the focus to not be on the gender of counsel or witnesses but the case before the court.
"But now that it is becoming the norm is quite different. So I don't have to stand out anymore in order to make the point," Nevens said. "Like everybody else, I can just focus more on what I'm doing in court, which doesn't have anything to do with my gender identity, because I can rest assured that I will be addressed correctly."
The new policy does not impact the B.C. Court of Appeal. Nevens says it has a different directive that includes Counsel and Mx, but nothing related to introducing personal pronouns.
The Canadian Bar Association committee is also working toward getting gender-neutral washrooms to be made available where possible in court facilities.