Does gender matter when it comes to sexual consent?
The young relationship started as so many do these days -- online. Thirteen-year-old “Scott” and 12-year-old “M” developed a friendship that over the course of three years and many instant message conversations, bloomed into romance. M began calling Scott her boyfriend -- they even talked about getting married and having kids. After M’s 16th birthday, Scott, then 17, traveled from his home in Scotland to visit her in England. They watched a movie, kissed and, before long, things went further.
It may sound like a sweet story of teenage love -- but Scott was sentenced by a court in England to three years in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for life as a result of the relationship. That’s because Scott was born Justine McNally and assigned at birth as female. In an appeal of McNally’s sentence, which was made public late last week, a U.K. court reduced McNally’s sentence but affirmed that the 18-year-old had violated M’s sexual consent by presenting as male. It was deemed a "deception" and "abuse of trust."