Earlier this year we reported on a case in which the attempted rape of a trans woman was not treated as such because the victim has a penis and not a vagina. Despite the fact that the attacker intended to rape the woman, the perpetrator was acquitted on the basis that the rape could never have been completed (if one bases his/her assumptions about sexual assault or rape on traditional vaginal intercourse which is heterosexist). The case received attention because it clearly discriminated against trans women by making the direct claim that a trans woman could not be raped or experience an attempted rape if her transition was not “completed”. Thereby, sexual violence against trans women was classified as something that is unlikely to happen.
We are however glad to report that the court has now changed its verdict. The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) writes in an article that the court came to the conclusion that the perpetrator intended to rape his victim and there was nothing holding him back. Even if this man did not “complete” the assault, his intention was in fact to rape, thereby he is being charged with attempted rape.
RFSL are content that justice was served and Ulrika Westerlund stated that they were pleased to see the man charged with attempted rape rather than simply assault.
Despite the good news, Maria Sundin is critical of the justice system and states that: “It is sad that the court continues to spread the idea that trans women are at a lesser risk of rape when the offender discovers that they have a penis”. Sundin also pointed out fact that research on hate crimes against trans women has shown that trans women suffer from a greater probability of severe violence, often with a deadly outcome, in cases of rape or attempted rape.
Photo of LGBTQ flag shared by Flickr user Sam T under a creative commons license.