Friday, 22 March 2013

The case of Justine McNally

I'm quite troubled by the idea that a fair judgement has been passed against Justine McNally. I need to make sure there is no absence of doubt here, the victim in this case is someone I have every sympathy for. To fall (possibly) in love with someone, or start that path, and find that they are not the person that they said they were creates a kind of crushing, floor falling from under you, chaos creating emotion that is hard to escape from. You doubt yourself, your ability to judge people, your confidence goes as you feel like you have been used and that it is somehow your fault you let this happen. this case deception only exists in the sense that the victim has been shaken by the fact that the person that she was having a relationship is female sexed rather than male. There are reports that Justine told the victim and her mother that she would go through a sex change to continue the relationship. This isn't the stance of a twisted manipulator, it's one of a person with an unsure view of their own sexuality wanting to be in a relationship with someone she cares about.

If Justine had been born as a man (sex) and gone through this relationship this story wouldn't exist, and yet it's likely that how the two felt about each other would be no different than before the deception was found out. If Justine had, if it were possible, a sex change before meeting with the victim and kept that quiet...again...we probably wouldn't be hearing about this, and the two would still feel the same about each other. Yet this story won't be told in such a way since the media has already latched on to the idea that this was some kind of grooming scheme with a sole aim, to get a girl in to bed.

It's hard to articulate this correctly as, at the end of the day, any kind of deception in a relationship tends to, for good reason, cause previous feelings to be re-evaluated and usually lost to some degree. Relationships are, after all, about trust. But if Justine's feelings were genuine, and his actions respectful...why is he in jail for an unfortunate set of choices that are exacerbated by his frustrations with his own sexuality vs anatomy, when men and women break people's hearts for the same well-intentioned deception on other matters all the time?

How many men or women are jailed for lying about having had an affair and being found out, for example? How many men have had meaningful, loving sex with a woman but haven't been truthful with her about who he is as a person. For example, are there any cases of a man not telling his partner that he is sterile, and going to jail for sexual assault when she finds out that this guy who she planned to start a family with had lied to her about his ability to procreate?

To say this is sexual assault, as much as Justine has taken the charge on by declaring her guilt, feels odd. I'd welcome comparable examples from other cases where someone has deceived a partner, out of fear of their true self ending the relationship, had some form of sexual intercourse with them, and then been charged with sexual assault.

Being heartbroken is horrible, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone to have to go through that feeling when it's been through their partner not being honest with them. I just don't think we should be happy that in this case we have jailed a person for circumstances that seem to only be present in cases involving transsexuals.

I welcome considered and measured responses, and apologise if anything above has caused offence...I am more than happy to clarify where needed.


  1. Having read the Daily Mail account, I feel that the victim here is the 16 year old virgin who thought she was consenting to sex with a boy her own age. As a virgin with 'Scott' as her first boyfriend, this young girl wouldn't know what to expect. It also states that the victim complained it was too painful, and so stopped it going any further.
    We are not given information as to the next 2 visits. Its one thing to be a lesbian, but to groom a child for 3 and a half years, then travel to a city over 300 miles away pretending to be a straight boy for your own self gratification is wrong. Whichever way you look at it, the victim gave consent to a boy. So if we are talking about confusion over sexuality where does this leave the victim? At the end of the day it was very brave of this young person to bring this to trial and the sentence was passed by an experienced judge who had all of the information from both sides. I feel there were no winners or losers in this case. They have both lost. The impact for both families will be great and I really don't think campaigns like this help at all. Justine McNally admitted her guilt because the evidence against her must have been great. And 6 counts of sexual assault must have been horrific for her victim to endure, now knowing the person she loved and trusted was in fact an impostor! Just to add, if you check other sites her friends state that she always seemed a happy girl and has only 'come out' since her arrest, so this begs the question, 'Could this have been a ploy to give the impression of a confused teenager instead of the makings of a sexual predator?' At the end of the day, no judge would put a young girl on the sex offenders register for the rest of her life without giving it a lot of deliberation. Do any of you know if she has any previous convictions. Would any of you consent to her taking care of a child in your care? Hand on heart.... if you were the victim here, or this was a member of your family, what would you do? Laugh about it and get on with your life? I thought not.

  2. Hi, "anonymous", I don't really subscribe to the view you are putting forward here. I think that the idea that suddenly the act is different because it is with a woman instead of a man is a fallacy. While I understand that the deceit in itself is the problem, if the act would not have been deemed to be sexual assault if Justine was actually a man it causes me to question if such charges are appropriate.

    You must remember that a judge and a court decide on the letter of the law, which I have no doubt that Justine broke (and her lawyers will have advised her to plead guilty). The issue is not did she commit this crime, but is this crime respectful of these kinds of unique circumstances. I would argue not.

    I said at the bottom of my post that this is technically no different to a guy lying about his ability to conceive with a partner, I would be interested to see if that scenario would ever make it to or through court.

    Generally I don't believe it is helpful to use terms such as "grooming" which have a specific connotation, and there is no evidence that this wasn't just a relationship happening as relationships do.

  3. I agree with you, Lee.

    My understanding is that the "victim" in this case was over the age of sexual consent. And, whilst they were very slightly older, the person sent to prison in this case was also very young ('victim' 16, 'perpetrator' 18 is my understanding). If some 18-year-old young man had lied about being a premiership footballer or having rich parents to get a 16-year-old girl into bed, I doubt they would have found themselves in court. So why is it suddenly a crime when someone omits to reveal their private medical history and gender assigned at birth to a willing partner that is over the age of consent? The only thing that the person convicted here seems to have been found 'guilty' of is having gender dysphoria and choosing not to reveal it, which should not be a crime in any civilised society.

    Lots of people with gender dysphoria go through a period of switching between genders. They use the identity they feel more comfortable in in some contexts, whilst necessarily having to continue in another that they hate in other contexts, calling themselves by different names, etc. That's not deception any more than young men and women that may turn out to be gay in the fullness of time are being deceptive if they temporarily date people of the opposite gender for a while as they discover themselves. I find it very troubling that anyone can be jailed for the 'offence' of living in a gender they are more comfortable with, and someone else willingly being attracted to them in that gender.

    I've got news for the 'victim' in this case: some men lie. And when they do, most of the time society won't sympathise with you if you willingly open your legs for them. Rather, society will just treat you like a gullible slut in most other cases where men lie to get you into bed and you fall for their lines. This just happens to be an isolated case where your personal choice to sleep with a man you fancied happens to overlap with an area in society where there is clearly still a lot of ignorance and prejudice.


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