WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) - The Warren County judge named in a federal lawsuit filed by three families with transgender children, has filed a response calling the allegations false. Judge Joseph Kirby says his court has no bias against those who are transgender.
Stephanie Leigh Whitaker, Jennifer Shaul and a woman calling herself Jane Doe filed the lawsuit against the Warren County Common Pleas judge on August 3.
The complaint includes a chart that shows that most name change cases involving transgender applicants are heard by Judge Kirby. In 2018, he has denied all three by transgender minors and approved six for transgender adults.
Whitaker was in court to change her teen's name from Heidi to Elliott. Whitaker said the judge asked if the desire to change her name began when Bruce Jenner transitioned to Caitlyn. The judge also asked what bathroom the teen used in school.
Judge Kirby's order only appears to respond to the Shauls' request for a name change. They haven't had their case heard yet. It was set for August 14 but Judge Kirby delayed the hearing. As part of his order, he writes "The approach that the lawyers have chosen is to put the Court in a position where, if the hearing proceeds on August 14, there will be those who claim I only ruled for or against the Applicant because of the fact that I have been sued, rather than the evidence actually presented in the hearing."
His order reads in part, "In the past, there have been cases where the Court felt the name change for a transgender minor was appropriate, and others where the Court found it was not in that minor's best interest at that time. 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."
Judge Kirby also says the lawsuit is "factually incorrect", including where he is accused of ignoring evidence from medical professionals who said the name change was in the best interest of the child.
Judge Kirby writes that he will continue to be fair in all cases. "It is not lost on this Court knowing the stress and anxiety children and their parents go through when dealing with these difficult issues."