Trans people facing rape charges unless they declare their gender history

Trans identities protected everywhere except the bedroom

A recent conference in London reviewing how transgender people are affected UK law has warned that transgender people can face rape charges and potentially jail if they don’t reveal their gender history to a sexual partner.

They warned that under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which says that deceiving someone about the nature of a sex act makes them incapable of informed consent and activity. Kissing and touching, can be treated as sexual assault and penetrative sex would amount to rape if the partner claimed that they were unaware of the transgender person’s history.

Transgender people are entitled to a private life and the personal choice as to how much of their history they disclose, to the extent that our personal details are locked by HM Revenue & Customs. If I don’t call the number for the special government department that has my records then my National Insurance number doesn’t even show up on the system.

By forcing transgender people to disclose their history to prospective partners the law is not only infringing their human rights it’s also reinforcing the bigoted idea that trans people are in some way abhorrent and something that people need to be warned about.

At what point should the disclosure be made? As you’re snuggling up in bed? And run the risk of a transphobic assault and potentially worse. Perhaps we should just be forced to tell everyone we meet at first introduction, just in case we end up in bed together. Or maybe trans people could be made to wear a handy badge on their clothing identifying their history.

Worryingly there was a Court of Appeal Case in which the judges regarded non-disclosure of gender history as lying.

If trans people have to disclose this why shouldn’t everyone?

Surely a racist could complain to a judge that he felt used after realising that the woman he slept with had previously had a black partner, or the homophobe object when discovering that his girlfriend had ‘experimented’ with other women at Uni.

If a married man lies to a woman and says that he’s single, surely that’s deception.

Would cosmetic surgery count as deception? “But I thought they were real boobs your honour!”

The Crown Prosecution Service has said that it won’t automatically prosecute trans people for having sex by deception, each case will be treated on it’s merits but this ambiguity leaves the system open to abuse and allowing judges decisions to be affected by their personal prejudices.

My passport says female, my driving license says female, why should I present myself as anything other. I am out and proud that I’m transgender and don’t have a problem with my history but not all trans people feel comfortable or safe disclosing those years when they were someone else and they have a right to that privacy and to have that choice respected by the law.

The Transjustice event was hosted by Garden Court Chambers in association with Birkbeck University and City University London. It also discussed setting up a network to advise trans people caught up by the law.