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Judge Splits the Baby in Name Change Cases, Gets Sued for Transgender Bias

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 16, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Judge Joseph W. Kirby is no King Solomon, but he knows how to split decisions.

He granted name changes for six transgender adults, and denied name changes for three transgender children this year. But unlike King Solomon who won praise for his baby-splitting decision, Kirby has been sued.

In Whitaker v. Kirby , parents sued the Ohio judge for allegedly discriminating against their transgender children by denying their requests for name changes. The case is getting attention of biblical proportions.

Transgender Bias?

Stephanie Whitaker, Jennifer Shaul and "Jane Doe" sued Kirby for violating the Equal Protection Clause. They allege Kirby "has a pattern and practice of treating name change requests from transgender adolescents differently than other name change requests."

In Whitaker's case, the parents wanted their 14-year-old daughter to have a name change to reflect her gender identification as a male. Kirby said it's a decision she can make when she becomes an adult.

After the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit, Kirby delayed a hearing in one of their name-change cases. He also responded to the "untrue allegations" about his decisions.

"As it pertains to name changes, transgender or otherwise, the Court has always considered the best interest of the child," Kirby wrote. "After many years of being a probate and juvenile judge, I have learned that children do not always know what is best for them during childhood."

However, one mother said Kirby was not sincerely interested in her daughter's gender identity. She said the judge's concerns resulted from "media coverage of the transition by Caitlyn Jenner."

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