Xiyu Zhu and Adeline Chow are two undergraduate students at Durham Law School. Here they review a seminar given by Professor Alex Sharpe in May 2016.
Professor Alex Sharpe from Keele University addressed sexual offence prosecutions based on “gender fraud” in the context of cis-trans sexual intimacy in her recent talk at Durham University. In the seminar, organized by GLAD (@DurhamGLAD), she discussed successful sexual offence prosecutions brought against young transgender men over the last four years. In these cases, the female cisgender partners, allegedly, were unaware of the defendants’ gender histories. Sharpe challenges the legitimacy of “gender fraud” prosecution, questioning the underlying cisnormative assumptions that ground it, and critiques criminalization as a legal response. (more…)
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Posted in Criminal law, Human rights, LGBT legal issues, Rape, Rape, sexual assault & harassment, sexual assault & harassment, Sexuality and law, tagged alex sharpe, deception, Gender Fraud, Jason Staines, Jennifer Staines, transgender on April 2, 2016|
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Alex Sharpe is Professor of Law at Keele University.
Over the last couple of years, I have written a series of articles addressing the issue of so-called ‘gender fraud,’ and opposing criminal prosecution on this basis. As recently as December of last year, I sought to take this prosecutorial practice to task in the context of the conviction of trans man, Kyran Lee, and before that Gayle Newland, whose eight year sentence shocked the nation.
I concluded the Kyran Lee piece with an ethical call, a plea for cisgender people to protest more vociferously regarding state intrusion into the lives of trans and gender queer people on the basis of a deception claim. I entertained the hope that the next witch hunt waiting to happen might be averted. Sadly, that hope has proved forlorn. Instead, it would seem that we are, much like Bill Murray, caught in a perpetual Groundhog Day – a cis and heteronormative ground zero. (more…)
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Posted in Criminal law, Human rights, LGBT legal issues, Rape, Rape, sexual assault & harassment, sexual assault & harassment, Uncategorized, tagged alex sharpe, barker, CPS, crown prosecution service, Gender Fraud, lee, mcnally, newland, sexual assault, transgender on January 15, 2016|
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Alex Sharpe is a professor at Keele University School of Law.
Yesterday, the government’s Women and Equalities Commitee released its long-awaited report on transgender equality The report is generally very positive in identifying a range of serious problems faced by transgender people and in making some important recommendations (especially in relation to healthcare provision, prison reform, depathologisation, and legal recognition of trans youth (16/17 year olds) and non-binary people). However, the committee side-stepped the important issue of prosecutions for ‘gender fraud,’ despite receiving written submissions on this subject. Accordingly, an important opportunity to address the travesty of such prosecutions has been missed.
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Posted in Criminal law, Human rights, LGBT legal issues, Rape, Sexuality and law, Theory & method, tagged alex sharpe, court of appeal, England, Gayle Newland, Gender Fraud, Keele, mcnally, sexual offences, sexual offences act, trans* rights on October 6, 2015|
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Alex Sharpe is a professor at Keele University School of Law. She has been involved in transgender law reform and activism for over twenty years, and has written extensively on the criminalisation of so-called ‘gender fraud’ under the Sexual Offences Act. Alex has recently been interviewed by CBC Radio Canada on the Gayle Newland case, together with Professor Madden Demsey. Her interview can be found here.
On 15th September, Gayle Newland was convicted of three counts of sexual assault under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. She is currently awaiting sentence, though a custodial term has been indicated. The case is the latest in a series of so-called, and so far successful, ‘gender fraud’ based prosecutions that have come before English (R v Barker  (unrep); R v McNally  EWCA Crim 1051) and Scottish (R v Wilson  (unrep)) courts. Barker and McNally received significant custodial sentences and all convicted defendants have been placed on the Sexual Offenders Register for life.
Most of the media and legal coverage of the Newland case, like the cases of Barker, McNally and Wilson before it, has tended, unproblematically, to reproduce a fraud narrative, rather than challenge the ideological underpinnings of a worldview that makes fraud such an easy conclusion for courts and juries to draw. Of course, prosecution for ‘gender fraud’ is deeply troubling for other reasons. In the first place, prosecutions can be viewed as a significant example of criminal law overreach. That is, and irrespective of where we determine consent to end or deception to begin, the use of the criminal law to regulate deceptive, as opposed to coercive, sexual relations, can be viewed as an overly draconian and counter-productive measure. (more…)
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