Gayle Newland

“For us, that was what was normal”. In this case, always wearing a blindfold when with her “boyfriend”, putting it on before he would open the door to her, kissing and cuddling on the sofa before the television blindfolded, blindfolded during sex, blindfolded when going out together, riding in a car then being led through a building up some steps into a garden where they sunbathed. It was only when sucking her boyfriend off and finding that the scrotum “felt wrong” that she took off the blindfold and found it was her female friend in a strap-on.

Honestly, possibly. The jury believed her. The defendant, Gayle Newland, claimed that the unnamed woman victim had been her friend, meeting her as Gayle rather than as “Kye”, Gayle’s male persona, and confessing that she like Gayle was lesbian but deeply screwed up about it. There had been no deception.

As a trans woman, I find it wearing, that “sex with a woman” and “sex with a man” are held to be so different that trans folk might be criminalised for pretending. Don’t come here for legal advice: I am unclear whether the operation is what makes the difference, as I now have a vagina, or the Gender Recognition Certificate, as the laws of England and Scotland both consider I am a woman. As far as I was concerned, I was a woman when I ceased presenting male, and now am prepared to assert I was female from birth, though I would not have said so at the time.

I would make sure I had informed consent before sex. One way of considering me is “demi-sexual”, getting physical only after forming a romantic attachment; “demi-sexual” makes it sound like an orientation, but it could be having imbibed certain taboos and moral attitudes about sex. But I feel trans folk should be able to have casual sex on the same terms as anyone else- see someone through beer goggles, say “What the hell”, find somewhere quiet- without that conversation.

That was not what happened here. There was a relationship over several months.

If Gayle Newland was ashamed of wanting sex with women, being Lesbian, she still managed it. She said, “I had never spoken to any gay people and especially in those years you didn’t see gay people on television. It was quite a negative thing. I just felt that speaking to people [in real life] I couldn’t really be myself.” She is 25. For so many of us, internalised homophobia is as bad as it ever was. Could she not believe that anyone else would find her real female self attractive, or was Gayle the act, Kye the true self? Is she trans?

I don’t know whether to be pleased or horrified at the lengths someone will go, for affection. Someone who told me she was too ugly, and I had to wear a blindfold? I would want to be trusted, to see her inner beauty.

Two Guardian reports.

In October, the Court of Appeal quashed her conviction, criticising the judge’s summing up, and she was retried. On 29 June she was convicted, and released pending a sentencing hearing. The judge said that on 20th July Newland was likely to receive a “significant custodial sentence”.

The complainant, who it appears thought “Kye” was a man, texted the accused after finding out the truth. Are you for real you should be locked up for what you’ve done to me. You raped my life, my heart and soul. No amount of counselling will make up for this. you are pure evil Gayle. You are sick. I only have one question: why me? You have no explanation, Gayle, other than you are pure evil … If I had not ripped off the mask I would not have known the evil truth. She was straight. The thought of sex with a woman horrified her. A further Guardian report.

Angelo Bronzino, Venus, Cupid and Envy

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