Scotus Makes Landmark Decision Recognising Transgender Person’s Pronouns

In a groundbreaking move that has captured national attention, the US Supreme Court has taken a significant step towards inclusivity and respect in a recent ruling. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's authorship of the ruling has made headlines for its use of the correct pronouns and name for a transgender woman. The ruling, announced on Wednesday, removes a procedural barrier for non-US citizens seeking to appeal a denial of protection from removal decision. This marks a legal victory for Estrella Santos-Zacaria, a courageous migrant from Guatemala who fled persecution based on her gender and sexual orientation, seeking refuge in the United States. What sets this ruling apart is the language employed by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson throughout the opinion, which was supported by three other liberal justices on the court, including Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Jackson consistently uses the pronouns "she" and refers to Santos-Zacaria by her chosen name, disregarding the fact that she was assigned male at birth. This deliberate choice showcases a remarkable display of empathy and recognition of an individual's gender identity. Even Justice Samuel Alito, in his concurring opinion, refrained from misgendering or using Santos-Zacaria's dead name, a fact that Justice Clarence Thomas also acknowledged by joining the concurrence. Legal scholars and court observers have noted the significance of this ruling, not only for its correct gendering of Santos-Zacaria but also for its use of more humane language regarding non-citizens compared to past opinions. In a tweet, former US attorney Joyce Alene highlighted the Court's interpretation of the term "alien" as non-citizen, avoiding dehumanizing terminology such as "illegal alien." The fact that seven justices endorsed Jackson's decision in full without mentioning this specific aspect reflects a significant step forward in both areas. This ruling carries additional weight as it emanates from a predominantly conservative-leaning body during a time when state legislatures are introducing a surge of anti-transgender bills. It is worth noting that this year has witnessed a historic high in the number of anti-LGBT+ bills introduced in state legislatures across the country. Moreover, the timing of the ruling coincides with the end of Title 42, the pandemic-era restrictions on migration to the US, which was lifted on Thursday. President Joe Biden, in anticipation of this change, announced new measures earlier in the week that have been met with frustration from progressive groups as they restrict access to asylum. The Supreme Court's ruling, therefore, stands as a beacon of hope and progress in a landscape marked by political and social challenges. It underscores the importance of recognizing and respecting the gender identity of individuals, while also acknowledging the rights and dignity of non-citizens. This milestone moment carries implications far beyond this specific case and sets a precedent for a more inclusive and compassionate approach to legal matters concerning transgender individuals.

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