In a legal first, a trans woman has had her sentence altered due to the now unsuitable nature of a community order she was issued before gender reassignment.
In 2010, Saralee Fisher, then male, was convicted of outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner.
47-year-old Fisher from North Tyneside underwent gender reassignment surgery after being handed a community order, which included a groupwork program for men.
In a hearing last week at North Tyneside Magistrates Court, the requirement for Fisher to attend the group sessions was removed.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice said:
“The suitability of treatment programmes for offenders is assessed on a case by case basis and the decision to vary a community sentence requirement is a matter for the courts.
“If an offender is not deemed suitable for group courses their offending behaviour will still be addressed on a one to one basis with specialist help if required”, the Sunday Sun reported.
A source close to the case said:
“Obviously this is a very unusual case and authorities in the North have never had to deal with a situation like this before.
“The groupwork programme was specifically for men so it wasn’t suitable for a woman to be on the course.
“There was never a chance that the punishment would be removed – it will just be carried out in a different way.”
Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, said: “We have been waiting for this kind of thing to start, and it all stems from the Equality Act 2010 which is a real hot potato at the moment.
“What difference does change in gender make?
“It is irrelevant whether this person has changed gender or is undergoing gender reassignment – they have committed an offence for which they were sentenced by the court.
“A change of name or body does not make them any less dangerous or mean that they should not carry a sentence that the court ordered.”
Fisher will now be required to see a probation officer one on one in place of attending the groupwork sessions.