The Current

Gayle Newland case raises concerns for transgender activists

A bizarre court case in Britain involving blindfolds, hidden identity and a conviction for sexual assault has the tabloids buzzing. Now, Gayle Newland has been convicted of sexual assault. And transgender activists are worried about how the judge's ruling might affect them.
Gayle Newland was convicted of sexual assault after a jury found that Newland intentionally deceived her partner of two years pretending to be a man, which negated consent. (Andy stenning/Daily Mirror)

** Warning: There is some sexually explicit language in our interview.**

It's a court case in Britain that centres on a blindfold, hidden identity and what that means for consent.

Gayle Newland was convicted of three counts of sexual assault for pretending to be a man over the course of a two-year sexual relationship with another woman. Using an on-line persona, Gayle Newland pretended to be a man named Kye Fortune. And she convinced the victim to wear a blindfold every time they met in real life.

But the case raises questions about other kinds of blindness as well.

Are the courts being blind to the fears of transgender people by linking gender so closely to identity?

Have previous rulings been blind to the ways in which lying about your identity can undermine a partner's sexual autonomy?

To tell us about the case, we're joined by Helen Pidd, who covered the case for the British newspaper, The Guardian. She was in Manchester, England.

To be sure, some aspects of this story have produced a certain amount of sniggering in pubs and on social media. But the case raises some important questions about deception, identity and sexual consent.

For their thoughts on the implications of this case, we were joined by:

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.