For those who have followed my previous commentary on such cases, much to do with the latest case will not come as much surprise. What is new is that this one was in England, thus increasing the threat that trans folk south of the border might risk criminalisation for entering into a relationship, as well as existing concerns north of the border.
What is not new is that a guilty plea was entered, so this has (by my understanding) not set case law. As far as I have been able to ascertain, no defended case of “sex by deception” bought against a person with a possible trans element has yet succeeded or even proceeded to trail in the UK.
Usual caveats apply in terms of the reporting. In this case, the only source I can find that has reported directly is the Daily Mail. Other outlets have picked up the story, but the timing and quotes used all indicate they’re regurgitating the Daily Mail story. This makes figuring out what actually happened rather more tricky than usual.
In brief, a couple had been involved in a long online relationship since they were barely teenagers but not met in person. They eventually met when both were over 16 and had sex. As a result of McNally, the defendant, being outed they were arrested and charged with six counts of sexual assault by penetration. (The age gap appears to be around the 12 month mark. The Daily Mail deliberately tries to give the impression it is more by quoting the age of one person at the time of the incident and the age of the offender now. This is a routine trick they use)
The prosecutor specifically stated the victim was “sexually assaulted…by deceiving her into believing that she, the defendant, was a boy” and the judge is quoted as referring to it as a “selfish and callous deception” when sentencing and there is no mention of any factors besides gender in the article. I find it difficult to imagine that someone using, say, a prosthetic penis or hand whilst engaging in any intercourse would end up in court. Rather, this case is more about “gay panic” – straight, cis folk being “tricked” into gay relationships by presumed-fake trans identities.
It is not made entirely clear what trans history McNally has and it is entirely possible they will end up identifying as lesbian. However, the defense does mention confusion over gender issues.
The sentence was for three and a half years plus a lifetime on the sex offenders register – years-long prison sentences are pretty much expected with sexual assault cases, which is how this was tried.