Transgender sex worker found guilty of spreading HIV may face prison sentence in male institute

Meka Beresford January 19, 2018
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A transgender sex worker who has been found guilty of spreading HIV may face a prison sentence in a male institute.

Sienna Fox was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm by a jury on Friday after she was accused of knowingly spreading the virus to one of her clients.

pink condom isolated on pink background photo, hiv prevention concept (Photo: schum45)

The 40-year-old had visited a clinic called WA Substance Users Association in August 2014 in order to get tested for STI’s.

Following the test, a nurse informed her that she was HIV positive.

Fox’s defence claimed that she could not be criminally negligent because she did not know of her status.

Defence councillor Simon Freitag disputed whether Nurse Joanne Morgan, who informed Fox of her HIV status by visiting Fox at her home to tell her, had accurately communicated the diagnosis because as Morgan herself admitted, she was dealing with her own personal issues at the time, and was not the “stereotypical image” of a nurse.

However, the prosecutor found that after Fox found out about her status she never returned follow up phone calls of messages.

She continued to advertise as a sex worker online and two months after her diagnoses she began to see the client, whose identity has been kept anonymous.

HIV testing kit
HIV testing kit

Related: Police warn about man ‘sabotaging’ condoms to spread HIV to gay sex partners

She saw the client for a period of ten months up until August 2015.

During this period of time, Fox reportedly told the client that she was being tested regularly for STIs.

The month following in September, the victim was informed that he too was HIV positive but by the time he had realised,Fox had left to live in New South Wales.

She was later found working under the name Sienna Fox and still advertising her services as a sex worker online.

Related: An insider’s guide to being transgender in prison

The judge, Christopher Stevenson, said in his ruling that she could not be granted bail because of the severity of the crime and the nature of harm done.

He acknowledged that being in a male prison would be “especially onerous” for Fox because of her gender identity but that he was not yet prepared to grant bail.

Fox, who committed the crime in Perth, Australia, has previously spent nine months in prison but was placed in a solitary cell.

However, the court heard that she was often searched by male guards.

She is due to be sentenced on February 16 and so it is yet unclear whether she will once again be placed in a male prison or if she’ll be placed in a prison that corresponds with her gender identity.

Holly Severson holds up a sign showing support for Chelsea Manning in the Castro District of San Francisco, California on May 17, 2017, during a celebration for Manning's release. Manning, the transgender army private jailed for one of the largest leaks of classified documents in US history, was released from a maximum-security prison in Kansas May 17, after seven years behind bars. / AFP PHOTO / Josh Edelson (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

In recent years the debate over where to place trans prisoners has become more pressing as the number of trans inmates dying or committing suicide has rocketed.

Jenny Swift, 49, was found dead in her cell at HMP Doncaster on 30 December 2016.

An inquest held at the end of last year heard that Swift backed out of a suicide pact with three other prisoners made over alleged bullying by guards.

Doncaster’s coroner told by fellow inmate Paris Clarke that they had both backed out of the suicide pact because it “wasn’t a good idea”.

Clarke said: “Some of us were being bullied by members of staff and no one was listening to us, so we made a pact of suicide.”

Clarke said that Swift seemed “upbeat” on the night she was found dead, that she “had plans” and talked about wanting to get married.

“She was funny and everything. She mentioned her kid, she mentioned about living life to the full. She gave everybody a cuddle that night, like she did most nights. She was just happy and said she would see us in the morning,” said Clarke.

More: Australia, Australia, HIV, LGBT, prison, sex work, Trans, Transgender

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