SPAIN: Trans-Identified Male May Be Sent To Women’s Prison After Sexually Abusing 15-Year-Old Girl

A trans-identified male in Spain has been sentenced to five years in prison for sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl who is alleged to be his half-sister. The predator is reported to have changed his legal gender marker just before the trial, and will be sent to a women’s prison if a further appeal to avoid jail time altogether is not successful.

The man, named only as Juan in order to protect the victim, was originally convicted by a lower court with the “continued crime of sexual assault on a minor under 16 years of age.” Juan was initially handed a sentence of 10 years in prison, a 12 year ban on communicating with the victim, as well as 10 years probation and a fine of 12,000 Euros to be paid as compensation to the victim.

But following an appeal, Juan’s charges were dropped to the lesser offense of “continued crime of sexual abuse aggravated by the prevailing relationship of superiority.” His prison sentence has now been cut down to 5 years by the Andalusian High Court, and his fine has been reduced to 7,000 Euros.

According to court records, the predator visited the victim and her mother at their home in Antequera, Spain, that year for a family reunion. Despite being 21 years older than the girl, he presented himself as the teen’s half-brother and was welcomed into the residence, where he stayed for a few days.

Shortly after his visit, the girl was placed in the protection of child services. Though it is unclear why she was taken out of her mother’s home, it is known that the family was “unstructured” and the girl was troubled.

The teen girl escaped the protection center with a friend after just a few weeks, and, desperate for a place to stay, contacted her “half-brother.” Juan was living in nearby Malaga but was homeless and had been squatting in various locations. He took the girls with him as he slept in parks and squatter’s compounds, later bringing his alleged relative to a friend’s house. Throughout the time they were together, Juan was using his position of authority to sexually abuse the vulnerable girl.

Police finally located the girl, who had been reported as missing by her mother, weeks later after she made a call to her aunt and told her where she was, and Juan was arrested.

Juan was initially charged with continued crime of sexual assault on a minor under 16 years of age, based on abuses corroborated by both the victim and witnesses to the assaults. He was convicted on this charge and handed a prison sentence totaling 10 years.

But Juan appealed the sentence in court, and last week had his conviction charges reduced to a lesser offense. His prison sentence was slashed in half to 5 years, and the compensatory fine he was to pay the victim was reduced from 12,000 Euros to 7,000 Euros. Bans imposed on his communication with the victim were maintained.

According to Spanish news outlet El Español, Juan began identifying as transgender just weeks before his initial court appearance in 2022, having gone to the civil register’s office to change his legal gender marker. The court reportedly had to verify his identification prior to the trial as he did not appear to be in any stages of transitioning.

The Trans Law of Andalusia, which was one of the first in Spain dictating gender self-identification, does not require any medical or social prerequisites prior to approving a name and gender marker change.

It is unclear if his newly declared transgender status had an impact on his appeal, but local media did note that his “sex change” added complexity to the trial.

Speaking to El Español, Juan’s lawyer stated that they were planning on appealing further in hopes of eliminating jail time altogether. If unsuccessful, however, Juan will be sent to a women’s prison to serve his sentence in accordance with gender self-identification law.

“If she does not succeed and she finally has to go to prison, in the register [and] all legal aspects she is a woman, and it would be discriminatory if she went to a men’s prison. She would go to a women’s estate,” defense lawyer José Manuel Núñez Ballesteros, referring to his client with feminine pronouns.

Spain has become internationally derided for its lenient laws surrounding gender identity and the impact those laws have have on the rights of women and girls in the nation.

Last year, Reduxx reported that a man in Catalonia managed to avoid sex-specific domestic violence charges after changing his gender identity. The man and his female partner had been together for 11 years, but their relationship began to deteriorate after he expressed a desire to wear lingerie in the bedroom and take estrogen.

Having no desire to participate in the man’s obvious fetish, the woman moved into another room in the residence, only to be terrorized by her ex who would go on to sexually and physically abuse her. After police became involved, the woman learned he had already changed his legal gender marker, making it impossible for him to be charged with the sex-specific crime of gender-based violence.

In Spain, gender-based violence charges provide the female victim specific protections and resolutions which can impact divorce or separation proceedings, custody, and other important factors.

As her abuser was legally recognized as female, the victim was not afforded any specific protections, including a protection order, and was forced to choose between homelessness and returning to the residence with her abuser.

On February 26, Spain passed the controversial “Trans Law,” granting anyone over the age of 16 the right to change the gender reflected on official documents without any social or medical proof of transitioning.

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Jennifer Sieland
Jennifer Sieland
Jennifer is a founding member of the Reduxx team, writing with a focus on crimes against women and sex-based rights advocacy. She is located in the American south where she is a passionate animal welfare advocate and avid coffee drinker.