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10689909_1016854768344392_8793741729286128967_nProfessor Alex Sharpe, School of Law, Keele University

Until very recently, I used to think transgender people were an especially vulnerable group in our society. It certainly appeared so. Didn’t they experience far more violence, discrimination and general incivility than most of us? In fact, I’m sure I remember reading somewhere (somewhere credible in fact) that 42% of transgender people never come out at work for fear of losing their jobs. Well you can understand it really. Indeed, and sorry for being pedantic, but wasn’t it the case, despite an obvious clear and present danger, that law, and the criminal justice system more generally, failed miserably to protect transgender people’s bodily and sexual autonomy? In fact, I might be mistaken (though I think you’ll find I’m not), but wasn’t it the case that the very definition of rape excluded transgender women so that cisgender men could basically rape them with impunity (see, further, my article ‘The Failure to Degenderise the Law of Rape: The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and the Transsexual Rape Victim’ (1995) The Criminal Lawyer, 7-8). Of course, some things have improved. But none of this really matters, because this version of recent history (while true) is no longer fashionable.

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