Appeals Court Denies Male Inmate’s Request to Be Referred to as Female in Prison and Court Documents

Photo Credit: Isabella Mendez

NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a male inmate’s request to have his Judgment of Confinement changed to reflect his chosen female name and that he would be addressed by the court with female pronouns.

Norman Varner had plead guilty in 2012 to attempted receipt of child pornography and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2018, Varner submitted a request that his name be changed in the Judgment to reflect his new name of Kathrine Nicole Jett.

He outlined that he began identifying as a woman in 2015 and began taking hormones, and that he also planned to undergo surgery in the near future.

A district court denied the request, declaring that there is no constitutional right to have prison records changed and that Varner did not have his name legally changed after all as his application was inaccurate. Further, Bureau of Prison regulations allowed for Varner to use “Kathrine” as his secondary name and to request that staff refer to him with his preferred pronouns.

Varner subsequently appealed the ruling, and also requested that he be referred to by the district court as a female as it had used male pronouns.

“Referring to me simply as a male and with male pronouns based solely on my biological body makes me feel very uneasy and disrespected,” he argued.

On Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that “Varner’s motion was unauthorized by any statute and that the district court therefore lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.”

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“[N]o authority supports the proposition that we may require litigants, judges, court personnel, or anyone else to refer to gender-dysphoric litigants with pronouns matching their subjective gender identity,” it also concluded. “Congress has said nothing to
prohibit courts from referring to litigants according to their biological sex, rather than according to their subjective gender identity.”

“If a court orders one litigant referred to as ‘her’ (instead of ‘him’), then the court can hardly refuse when the next litigant moves to be referred to as ‘xemself’ (instead of ‘himself’),” the majority of the three-judge panel found, noting that the matter then can become very complicated and messy as accusations of intentional misgendering can then be alleged.

“We decline to enlist the federal judiciary in this quixotic undertaking,” wrote Judge Stuart Duncan, a Trump nominee, in the ruling.

Read the ruling in full here.

As previously reported, while some view transgenderism as a medical condition, Christians believe the matter as a spiritual issue — one that stems from the same predicament all men everywhere face without Christ.

The Bible teaches that all are born with the Adamic sin nature, having various inherent feelings and inclinations that are contrary to the law of God, and being utterly incapable of changing by themselves.

Jesus outlined in John 3:5-7 that men must be regenerated by the second birth, and be transformed from being in Adam to being a new creation in Christ, or they cannot see the kingdom of Heaven. It is known in Christianity as the doctrine of regeneration and is a working of the Holy Spirit.

A man who has been regenerated by the Spirit of God consequently no longer lives unto himself, but to please the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5 exhorts, “And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again. … Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

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