170 V O L . 7 9 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 2 1 THE ADVOCATE
“My name is Ms. Jane Lee, spelled L-E-E. I use she/her pronouns. I am
the lawyer for Mx. Joe Carter who uses they/them pronouns”.
(“Mx.” is pronounced like the word “mix” and is a gender-neutral
If a party or lawyer does not provide this information in their introduction,
they will be prompted by a court clerk to do so. For instance, the
court clerk may say “For the record, I would ask counsel for the applicant
to introduce themselves and their client, including their pronouns and
title such as “Ms., Mr., Mx., or Counsel”.”
For some proceedings, such as criminal pre-trial conferences, there may
not be a court clerk. In that case, the party or lawyer may be prompted
by the judge or justice to provide this information.
Why is this information important?
This information is important to:
• improve experiences within the legal system for gender diverse parties
• identify correct pronouns and forms of address by adopting one practice
that applies equally to all
• avoid lawyers or parties having to raise the issue only after incorrect
titles or pronouns are used
• support a shift in professional practice towards asking all people how
they should be respectfully addressed, acknowledging that this should
not be assumed based on name, appearance or voice
Using incorrect gendered language for a party or lawyer in court can
cause uncomfortable tension and distract them from the proceedings that
all participants should be free to concentrate on. The Court hopes its new
Notice will contribute to a culture that is inclusive and respectful of
The Provincial Court would like to thank the executive of the CBABC’s
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee (SOGIC) section for
their helpful feedback on this new Notice.
Since the directions were issued, the Advocate has received several comments
from its readers critical of the directions. In an effort to have the matter
openly discussed and fully canvassed between readers who have
differing views on the subject, we reached out to interested parties for their
commentary. As a result of our effort to be fair to members of the legal profession
with competing views, word of our inquiry leaked and we were
rather dramatically cautioned that what the Advocate publishes on the matter
could result in a human rights complaint against us. We have also been
advised that this is not a topic that is open to debate and that criticism of the
directions may amount to hate speech.
This development has put us in a seemingly untenable situation. We are
damned if we publish the comments and we are condemned if we do not.