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Courts in NM must now respect the pronouns of parties and attorneys

Pins from the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico display various pronouns.
Megan Kamerick
Pins from the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico display various pronouns.

People who interact with courts in New Mexico will now be able to note which pronouns and salutations they use, including some gender-neutral terms. Additionally, the New Mexico Supreme Court Tuesday ordered courts in the state to use what is listed to ensure all parties and attorneys are “treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law.”

The move came out of a recommendation made by the court’s Commission on Equity and Justice which, according to its website, strives to“eliminate biases and inequities within New Mexico’s justice system.” All five Justices agreed on the administrative change, according to the order.

Starting immediately, defendants, plaintiffs and their council can list their pronouns and salutations alongside their names in the heading of complaints and other pleadings.

However, the options allowed under the order are not all-inclusive. For pronouns, a person can choose from she/her/hers, he/him/his, or they/them/theirs. For salutations, the options include Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Mx., pronounced “mix.” The order also limits people to only one set of pronouns, though some people use multiple.

While the rule requires courts to use the information verbally and in writing when “addressing, referring to, or identifying” a person, there is some flexibility. They can also use the person’s name or what the order calls “other respectful means that are not inconsistent” with the gendered terms the person uses.

The language in New Mexico’s order is nearly identical to a rule adopted by the Michigan Supreme Court in September. That state was the first in the nation to make this change, according to Reuters.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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