The Supreme Court on Thursday reduced the sentence of a transgender man who took part in an armed robbery when he still lived as a woman. The judges took into consideration the fact that the man, who underwent an initial sex change operation, may face difficulties in jail due to Israel Prison Service (IPS) guidelines stating that inmates whose sexual identity is not clear be held in solitary confinement for fear they will be harmed.
In 2010 the transgender man and two other people robbed a convenience store at a gas station in Eilat by holding a knife to the storekeeper's throat. The three fled the scene with NIS 1,000 ($280) in cash. They were each sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Beersheba District Court.
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In his appeal to the Supreme Court, the transgender man said the fact that he would be separated from the rest of the inmates would make his stay in prison more difficult. The State, for its part, said the man was emotionally capable of dealing with his incarceration and that the IPS can handle such cases. The court accepted the man's plea and reduced his sentence to 10 months.
Justice Neal Hendel mentioned that the petitioner was born in the 1980s as a woman but "felt at an early age that he was male." Two years prior to the armed robbery the man began hormonal, psychological and psychiatric treatments that prepared him for an initial sex change operation, which he underwent not long ago, the judge said.
Hendel said that despite the severe crime, the man's sentence should be reduced in light of his special personal circumstances.
Justice Salim Joubran criticized the IPS's policy regarding the isolation of transgender prisoners who have yet to complete their sexual transformation process. He said solitary confinement was "seven times more difficult" than regular incarceration.
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