Sheriff Court blasted for “offensive” note sent to transgender woman


BUNGLING sheriff court officials have been blasted after accidentally sending an “offensive” note to a transgender woman with her divorce papers.

Becky Kent, from Dundee, was left gobsmacked when she opened her divorce decree on Monday to find the comments on a post-it note which officials had apparently forgot to remove from the paperwork.

The 51-year-old found along with the note – which said “it takes all sorts!!” –  the letter had also been addressed to “dear Sir” despite her now being a woman.

Becky was horrified to discover the offensive note attached to her divorce decree
Becky was horrified to discover the offensive note attached to her divorce decree

The handwritten post-it note says: “Colin it’s right!!! Man – changed his name to woman’s name – statutory declaration attached!!! Takes all sorts!!”

Miss Kent is in the process of submitting a formal complaint demanding an apology as well as a public statement from the court pledging their support to transgender equality.

The Scottish Transgender Alliance has denounced the note saying the official’s behaviour is “disgraceful” and “unprofessional”.

Miss Kent, who is originally from Wisconsin in America, said the comments “undermined who I am as a person”.

 The father of eight said: “I came to Scotland because of how forward thinking the people are when it comes to gender equality and for the most part everyone has been so supportive.

“But when I opened that letter on Monday I was just like ‘wow’. I couldn’t believe how ignorant it was.

“Firstly how can you be so stupid that you don’t remove a post it note like that before sending it. Seriously where is the common sense?

“But most importantly it’s alarming how they could go against their own  equality policy which says they will treat people in protected groups with dignity and respect.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Court Service has apologised for the error
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Court Service has apologised for the error

Miss Kent, who is a retired prison officer and who was married for 30 years, said: “There was a great deal of discomfort and nervousness admitting to myself and to everyone else that I am a transgender person and thankfully most people, including including my family for the most part have been so supportive.

“But this is who I am. 

“I didn’t make a choice and decide ‘Oh this could be fun’ it’s my life. It’s who I am as a human being and they’ve invalidated that with their comments.”

The 51-year-old officially changed her name and gender in Scotland in July 2012.

Becky, who has been in Scotland for two and a half years, said that not only did she find the note “offensive,” they had also wrongly addressed the documents.

She said: “At the beginning of December I received some of the documents and they had changed my name to my birth name.

“I kind of suspected that when I got the final copy they would have made mistakes.”

The decree itself is addressed to Ms Rebecca Kent however it opens with ‘Dear Sir’. 

Becky, who is studying a masters degree in sociology, said: “Although I can’t change what had happened to me, I can try and change how this government body deals with equality issues so no one else has to face what I’ve experienced this week.”

“Unprofessionally and inappropriately” 

The Scottish Transgender Alliance has denounced the court’s actions.

A spokesman said: “It is disgraceful that Scottish Courts Service staff in Dundee have behaved so unprofessionally and disrespectfully towards Ms Rebecca Kent.

“Referring to a woman with a transsexual history as being a man and using eight exclamation marks is degrading and offensive.

“Just how ignorant of diversity and lacking in training does someone need to be to think sticking such a post-it note to correspondence is appropriate?

“An apology and improved staff training are urgently needed.”

Miss Kent is submitting a formal complaint which will go before a sheriff by the end of the week.

She wants a formal apology, all the documents to be redrafted with the correct titles, a public pledge to their equality policy and for all staff to  undergo training.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Court Service said: “The Scottish Court Service would like offer our sincere apologies to Ms Kent for her recent experience.

“We strive to treat all court users with dignity and respect and we will fully investigate this incident and take appropriate action.

“We will remind all  staff of our equalities policy and consider any training or awareness needs this incident raises.”