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Masquerade and Mayhem            by : Debbie Cybill


These are two terms that are often misused, but all members of the TG Community should be aware of their precise meanings.Masquerade is to wear a mask or any disguise. It is as simple as that. In the days of highwayman anyone wearing a mask could be charged with the crime of masquerade even if no other crime had been committed. The police assumed that the only reason for the masquerade was to commit some kind of robbery. This assumption has persisted to the present day in the cartoon masked burglar, and in reality in the masked terrorists wearing balaclavas.

Masquerade is still a criminal offence, though in Britain it is years since any TV has been charged with masquerade. But when I was a teenager living in Manchester in northern England, experimenting with crossdressing I was scared out of my knickers one day to read in the Manchester Evening News that a TV had been arrested and charged with masquerade while simply walking along in broad daylight minding his own business. That was many years ago - I am now over 70.

When I moved to Canada, where I now live, I read of several such arrests, the most recent in 1974. The Canadian authorities are now more sensible and no TV risks arrest just for crossdressing.The same is not true of the United States. There it is up to the individual State. New York and California are liberal in these matters, but woe betide any TV caught on the streets of Salt Lake City, Utah. At last count, 28 of the 50 States of the Union are still charging TVs with the dreadful crime of masquerade.Mayhem is another concept that is important to the TG community. In British Common Law mayhem is the crime of maiming a man in such a way that he can no longer carry arms in battle. Cutting off a man's trigger finger constitutes mayhem, but cutting off his little finger does not (and carries a lesser legal penalty), since he could still fire a carbine. Since the United States of America continue to use British Common Law this applies in the USA also. Long ago the powers that be decided that a eunuch was not fit to carry arms. In fact, the absence of testosterone makes a eunuch less aggressive. Thus, in law, castration constitutes mayhem. This has long been used by some surgeons as an argument against SRS: they can claim that they could be charged with mayhem if they performed this surgery! Fifty years ago this argument was indeed first used in England and one of the main obstacles to a TS obtaining SRS was the issue of mayhem.In Britain and Canada today this question of mayhem is never raised in connexion with SRS, but in some of the individual states of the USA it still rears its ugly head. So if you are a TS living in Utah be aware that SRS is still illegal, and that if you ask a surgeon to perform this operation you are legally guilty of "criminal counselling" to your surgeon to commit this dreadful crime and he would be guilty of mayhem if he carried it out.


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