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Online romance leads to jail time
July 10, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Here's an interesting case involving transgender issues.
According to Alternet, a 17-year-old girl in the United Kingdom was sent to prison for three years for misrepresenting herself as male to a girl she met on the Internet. The two girls met online when one was 13 and the other 12 and continued the relationship until they were 17 and 16. When they first met, the older girl identified herself as a boy named "Scott" and the two girls developed a friendship and later an online romance that included discussion of marriage and children. When they finally met in person, the relationship turned sexual. It isn't clear whether the younger girl or her parents filed charges, but a court agreed that the older girl had committed assault by misidentifying herself as a "male." The older girl apparently felt more comfortable identifying herself as a boy, but apparently now considers herself a girl. Her jail sentence was eventually reduced and the girl, now 18, is out of jail, but is required to register with the police.
The case has transgender activists outraged. They say it will eventually threaten the rights of trangender people who don't want to tell their sexual partners what their gender at birth was or kids who are experimenting and learning their identities.
Is it assault if someone picks up a transgender woman in the bar and later discovers that she was born a male? Does it make a difference if the people involved are teenagers? Personally, I sympathize with "Scott" and think a jail sentence and registration is going too far. She was a kid who made a major mistake, but that shouldn't cast a shadow over the rest of her life. If it were an adult involved, I would probably be less forgiving.
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