Mind-boggling sexual assault trial is fraught with gender issues: DiManno

My first thought, upon entering the courtroom: Where’s the accused?Not in the dock, not at the defense table.And then it dawned on me. Oh, that’s him. Or her. Sitting alongside his legal counsel. Or her legal counsel.I’m not playing disingenuous gender games here. Transgendered sexual identity is no longer a matter for tittering, if ever it was. It’s just that the defendant in court Friday looked not at all like the individual in the police handout photo, which was my reference point. Meaning, he — presenting as female — appears far older than 52 years of age, all wrinkly, with face collapsing inwards, nose curving down towards his protruding lower bite, and a thin grey bob of hair.I would never have identified him in a police lineup.Article Continued BelowTo be clear: The accused self-identifies as female and prefers to be known as “Tara,” the name of his former wife, but is formally called Patrick Pearsall in court documents.As Crown attorney Jonathan Smith noted in his opening address to the jury earlier in the week, the alleged victims knew him as “Pat” or Patrick, and thus will refer to him by those names. “It is by no means an issue of disrespect for the defendant’s wishes to be referred to as Tara.”That’s the no-offense-intended preamble.