Trans People Guilty Of Sexual Assault In The UK If They Don’t Disclose Their Gender Identity

"Forcing transgender people to disclose their history...reinforces the bigoted idea that trans people are...abhorrent."

One trans activist is speaking out against outdated legislation that could make it possible for trans individuals in the UK to face jail time for rape and sexual assault if they fail to reveal their gender identity to their partners.

In a speech given at a recent Transjustice Conference in London, activist Sophie Cook spoke to the serious repercussions of the outmoded Sexual Offences Act of 2003 for trans folks.

The act states that individuals who are not aware of the nature of a sex act are not able to give consent. Cook, along with many leading trans activists, fears that this language could be (and potentially has been) twisted to mean that non-disclosure of one’s gender history could lead to imprisonment for rape, even as the Crown Prosecution Service states that every case it receives is handled fairly and individually.

“At what point should the disclosure be made?” her speech began. “As you’re snuggling up in bed? Or maybe trans people could be made to wear a handy badge on their clothing identifying their history. If trans people have to disclose this why shouldn’t everyone?”

“Forcing transgender people to disclose their history,” she continued, “[infringes] on their human rights [and reinforces] the bigoted idea that trans people are in some way abhorrent and something that people need to be warned about.”

Grietje Baars, a senior lecturer in law at City University who was also in attendance at the conference, said the current Sexual Offences Act was meant to clarify the law’s haphazard stance on sexual assault but that “in practice, it failed.” She added that “judges have twisted the law to fit personal prejudice [with] much contradiction in their rulings.”

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