Is there something you’re not telling me? Well, go to jail, do not pass ‘go’, and most definitely do not collect £200.

Here’s something so ridiculous that it would be viewed as far-fetched even if it came from a tongue-in-cheek dystopian novel.

Apparently in Scotland, it’s illegal to have been through gender reassignment and not tell potential partners about it. Is it also illegal, then, to fail to mention that one’s had, say, a kidney transplant or breast implants or takes anti-depressants? Will I be prosecuted if I don’t announce to all and sundry that I used to be morbidly obese as opposed to merely the voluptuous creature I am now? Surely what we are now is what matters, not what we were once… How about confessing that one used to support Chelsea but now supports Arsenal? After all, if it’s all about potentially traumatizing others, then such knowledge could clearly cause untold damage to a dyed-in-the-wool Gunners’ fan.

This, in brief, is what I’m talking about. (You can read the full story here: A 25-year-old transgender man has been sentenced for obtaining sexual intimacy by fraud, and placed on the sex offenders’ register, because he failed to tell two partners that he hadn’t been the same sex at birth and claimed to be younger than he was. Previously, a teenage girl was jailed for two and a half years because she dressed up and pretended to be a boy in order to date other girls.

These two cases seem very different to me, and yet the response of the courts seems equally disproportionate in both cases.

In the first, the individual, although he has not yet undergone gender reassignment therapy/surgery, identifies as a man.  The fact that he doesn’t have a penis does not make this a lie. There are men out there (whose gender is the same now as it was at their birth) who, because of nasty accidents with chainsaws, vengeful wives with Stanley knives, or unsavoury necrotizing diseases, also lack a membrum virile. Are they too to be prosecuted for failing to mention in passing that they are not hung like a horse?

As far as I can see, the only real fraud that this chap has perpetrated is to lie about his age (something which one of his lovers did too, claiming to be over the age of consent when really she was only 15) – and if that’s a crime, then half the celebrities in the world should by rights be serving time.

In the second case, this is a girl in her late teens who is clearly confused about her sexuality or at least about how to express it. She likes girls. She has possibly had either too sheltered or too conservative an upbringing to realize that, in this day and age, being a lesbian is OK. Or it should be. Shouldn’t it? Oh, it seems not, as she’s been banged up for it. Would it not be infinitely better to give her counselling to come to terms with her sexual orientation than to lock her up and limit her employment prospects for life by giving her a criminal record? I shall refrain from crass comments about the sexual possibilities open to her in prison – that is not the point. The point is that this is only a step away from the nineteenth-century remedy of performing clitoridectomies on women who masturbated or showed ‘unnatural’ sexual desires.

It is a sad fact of life that when it comes to sex, people lie. Sometimes they do it to impress their partner; sometimes just to get their own way. But it happens, and always has. Are we now going to prosecute the person who claims only to have had two sexual partners when really a zero should be added to the right of that number? Or the one who swears that this is love, not lust, so please come to bed with me? What about the braggart who boasts of his or her sexual prowess and then proves to be about as erotically charged as a dead fish (assuming, dear reader, that that isn’t your particular fetish)? Yeah, all fraudsters of the first water… With prisons overcrowded and not enough space for the real criminals, I’m sure it’d make heaps of sense to add these terrible individuals to their numbers. Don’t you agree?


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