Judge's statements about restroom 'mating' and science merit removal in transgender case, ACLU says

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Lawyers for a transgender teen seeking the right to use the boys’ restroom at school are seeking removal of the federal judge in the case because of his comments about medical science, mental disorders and the brain.

The lawyers point to statements by U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar of Norfolk, Virginia, expressing fears that allowing the teen to use the boys’ restroom would lead to “mating.” The Associated Press and the Daily Press have stories.

“There are only two instincts—two,” Doumar said. “Everything else is acquired—everything. That is, the brain only has two instincts. One is called self-preservation, and the other is procreation.”

Doumar’s comments are included in an appeal filed by lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia before the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ACLU asserts that the school violated the teen’s equal protection rights by requiring him to use separate, private restrooms. The ACLU originally identified the 16-year-old teen by name when it filed the suit in June, but he is referred to as “G.G.” in the appeal.

According to the ACLU brief (PDF), Doumar refused to consider uncontested expert testimony about gender dysphoria, and persisted in “repeated and gratuitous labeling” of the youth as having “a mental disorder.” That terminology improperly stigmatizes transgender people and “does not reflect the sensitivity or care the public should expect from courts addressing these issues,” the court filing says.

Doumar also “berated counsel” for filing an initial complaint using the youth’s full name and questioned whether the aim of the complaint was publicity, the brief says. “I’m having a huge problem with everybody knowing that he desires to be a male and, in fact, his attorney advertising that to the world,” Doumar said.

The judge’s statements appear rooted “in the harmful notion that transgender status is something to be embarrassed about or keep ‘in the closet,’ ” the brief says.

Doumar refused to grant a preliminary injunction in a written opinion last month and dismissed a count claiming a violation of federal sex-discrimination law. The appeal seeks reversal of those rulings. The equal protection challenge is pending.

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