Field, along with 31-year-old magician Martyn Smith, is on trial for Farquhar’s murder in a British courtroom and testified for the first time this week, admitting that he lied to “gaslight” Farquhar. The men are also on trial for attempting to murder Ann Moore-Martin, a never-married 83-year-old retired headmistress described as lonely.
Field, now 28, told Oxford Crown Court he was in sexual relationships with both of the elderly retirees, and admits lying to get them to change their wills to leave everything to him, which both did. But he said he did not kill them. Farquhar died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 69 in 2015 and Moore-Martin died of complications of unexplained seizures at the age of 83 two years later.
“The essential lie was that I loved him and that his feelings beyond the platonic were reciprocated by me,” Field told the court, according to local press outlets. “They were not.”
When Field’s defense attorney David Jeremy asked his client why he chose Farquhar as his victim, the younger man stared straight ahead, according to press reports. “To irritate him,” he said. “I did it vindictively.”
Field, who journaled and messaged Smith about a string of sexual relationships with young women during the time he was Farquhar’s live-in lover, admitted to preying on the older man’s insecurities, especially when it came to his sexuality. Farquhar was a deeply religious closeted gay man who only came out when he started the faux romance with Field. The two were joined in a secret bonding ceremony in March 2014.
Field does not identify as gay or bisexual, but engaged in romantic interludes with Farquhar for the purpose of swindling him, he admitted. He said he had also prostituted himself five occasions, receiving oral sex from men he met on Craigslist who paid between £30 and £50.
When Jeremy asked about his perception of the sexual encounters, Field said he found them, “neither pleasurable or objectionable.”
“Money was a secondary thing,” he told the court. “It was to push my own boundaries. I was trying to do something that I found transgressive to test myself.”
With regard to Farquhar, he said that he did not really like the elderly man. “I have mixed feelings,” Field told the court, according to transcripts. “I had a great deal of affection for him as a friend but I also found aspects of him dislikeable.”
Field was asked point-blank if he killed Farquhuar.
“Did you suffocate him, Peter Farquhar?” the defense lawyer asked. “Administering drugs and gaslighting him? Did you intend to kill him?”
Field responded, “I did not.”Field was then asked whether he killed Moore-Martin, whom he admittedly also romanced. “Did you conspire to murder Ann Moore-Martin?” the defense attorney asked. “Did you attempt to murder Ann Moore-Martin? Give her drugs or tried to poison her? Encouraged or assisted her to commit suicide?”
Field said that he did not kill or conspire to kill Moore-Martin, but that “on several occasions” he did speak to the elderly woman about suicide in hopes she might be triggered.
The preacher’s son started courting Moore-Martin, who lived two houses down the block from Farquhar, after the elderly man died. Field told the court that he worked hard to convince her that he had genuine romantic feelings for her to get her to believe that they “were in a genuine romantic relationship,” according to the BBC.
“I was pretending to have a real relationship with her, that was false,” he told the court, adding that his sole purpose was “to gain from her, to get her to change her will and, when she died, to inherit from her.”
Field’s younger brother is also on trial for pretending to need a kidney dialysis machine for which they bilked the older woman. Jeremy asked his client about the $33,000 Moore-Martin gave him to buy the medical equipment. Field confirmed to the court that he did in fact lie. Asked what he did with the money, he said: “Well I certainly didn’t buy a dialysis machine…I spent it.”
Field was then pressed by his own defense attorney about his own “short list” of real relationships. “They’ve all been colored by deception by me,” Field said. “I’ve deceived absolutely everyone that I’ve ever had a relationship with.”
“I think the most common kind of deception by me is to pretend that I’m other than I am—that I’m better. I feel inadequate so it’s pleasing to pretend to be someone else.”
Melania Geymonat, 28, right, says she and her partner Chris were attacked on the top deck of a bus as they were travelling to Camden Town in London.Melania Geymonat Ps/Facebook
She said a group of four men, one with a Spanish accent, the others with British accents, were ‘behaving like hooligans’ and demanding they kiss ‘so they could enjoy watching’|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA|
LONDON – A total of five teenage boys were under arrest Saturday in connection with an alleged assault on two women who refused to kiss as they were surrounded on a London bus and taunted as lesbians, according to an account by one of the women.
The alleged attack May 30 was revealed in social media posts by one of the women, Melania Geymonat, who said she was beaten and bloodied. The British news media reported on the incident Friday and politicians responded.
On Friday evening, the Metropolitan Police announced that four teens had been arrested in connection with the assault. They said another boy, 16, was arrested Saturday. Police were reviewing CCTV footage of the attack and continued to appeal for witnesses and information
Geymonat, an Uruguayan flight attendant, said she and her American girlfriend Chris — she did not provide a last name — were traveling home on the top deck of a London night bus to Camden Town, a neighborhood busy with nightlife, in the early hours of May 30.
“I had a date with Chris,” Geymonat posted on her Facebook page. “We got on the Night Bus … climbed upstairs and took the front seats. We must have kissed or something because these guys came after us.”
She said a group of four men, one with a Spanish accent, the others with British accents, were “behaving like hooligans” and demanding they kiss “so they could enjoy watching.”
“In an attempt to calm things down, I started making jokes,” Geymonat wrote. “I thought this might make them go away. Chris even pretended she was sick, but they kept on harassing us, throwing us coins and becoming more enthusiastic about it.”
According to her account, the situation then escalated and the men started punching them. “Suddenly the bus had stopped, the police were there and I was bleeding all over,” she wrote.
Police said that the incident took place at 2:30 a.m. and that “the women were then attacked and punched several times before the males ran off the bus. A phone and bag were stolen during the assault.” The two were treated at a London hospital for facial injuries and released.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the incident “a disgusting, misogynistic attack.” Hate crimes against gay people will not be tolerated in London, he said.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called it “absolutely shocking” and promised “solidarity to Melania and Chris and to all in the LGBT+ community for everything they endure for simply being who they are.”
Prime Minister Theresa May also denounced the attack.
Geymonat posted photographs of herself and her partner with bloodied faces and clothes.
Siwan Hayward, director of compliance, policing and on-street services at Transport for London, told the BBC that the assault was “sickening” and “utterly unacceptable,” adding that “homophobic behavior and abuse is a hate crime and won’t be tolerated on our network.”
As news of the attack began to spread, thousands took to social media to express solidarity with the couple. “Melania and Chris” trended in the United Kingdom on Friday, with many also explaining “this is why we still pride.” London Pride, a month of LGBT events culminating in a massive parade on July 6, begins Saturday.
It wasn’t until the 1980s, after a series of nervous breakdowns, that Bo Laurent—then in her 30s—set out to investigate the source of her deep distress.
The truth, when it finally came, was both liberating and traumatizing: Bo discovered she had been born with atypical genitalia, which surgeons had operated on to make her look—arbitrarily—more typically female, inflicting irreversible harm on her in the process, and telling her parents that they should never reveal to Bo the surgery she had undergone as an infant.
Intersex and the City|Huffpost||
Doctors had told Bo’s parents, and Bo herself once she found out, that her condition was so rare there was no one else like her. But after learning the truth from her medical records, and as she traveled the country telling her story, she found this was untrue. Her California mailbox began to fill with letters from people describing similar experiences.
In 1993, Bo, using the name Cheryl Chase, founded the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) to meet and help people who, like her, were born with biological sex characteristics that fall outside typical definitions—that is, their chromosomes, gonads, or internal and external sex organs differ in some way from what science and society have long deemed to be “male” or “female.”
ISNA became an eddy of activists, a support group for traumatized people who had more questions than answers, and the birthplace of momentous historical agitations such as “Hermaphrodites with Attitude.” Their mission was to convince the medical establishment to respect intersex people’s rights to health and bodily autonomy by stopping “normalizing” surgeries on children before they were old enough to understand the procedures and consent to them.
Speaking Truth to Power
ISNA’s message was not anti-doctor, or even anti-surgery, but pro-informed consent. Operations to alter the size or appearance of children’s genitals risk incontinence, scarring, lack of sensation, and psychological trauma. Surgery to remove gonads can amount to sterilization without patients’ consent, and then require lifelong hormone replacement therapy. The procedures are irreversible, severed nerves cannot regrow, and scar tissue can limit options for future surgery.
Bo and the other early ISNA participants believed the truth would soon set them—and future generations of intersex people—free. Their thinking, as Bo told me when we first met in the fall of 2016 near her home in Sonoma county, California, was: “As soon as we get our stories out there, this will all stop. Once doctors realize the harm they’ve done, they’ll change their minds and methods.”
But it wasn’t that simple.
Convincing the medical establishment proved to be significantly more complicated than anyone expected.
A change in medical paradigms requires a shift in understanding what the medical evidence shows—in this case, an acknowledgment that, although empirical data remains incomplete, there is now substantial evidence that medically unnecessary surgery on infants and young children with intersex traits often causes significant harm. Conversely, there is little evidence of its putative benefits, and certainly no empirical basis on which to conclude that the supposed benefits are real, let alone that they outweigh its harms.
But it’s not easy to suggest that doctors are engaging in practices that violate their patients’ basic rights—the white coat signals a lot. As an endocrinologist in Boston told me: “Aside from clergy, who else in our society but doctors do people listen to about the heaviest life and death, sickness and health questions?”
The Default-To-Surgery Paradigm
The medical paradigm that ISNA was up against had calcified in the US in the 1960s when John Money, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University, theorized that gender in infants was malleable and surgical interventions could unproblematically determine lifelong gender identity. Operations on intersex bodies had been conducted sporadically around the world in prior decades, but it was Money’s infamous 1967 case of recommending female sex assignment surgery on a male baby following a botched circumcision that cemented the theory as the default medical practice.
There were no clinical trials, no consideration of the potential risks, just a hypothesis from an elite practitioner based on his marquis case—which became known as “John/Joan”—driving the theory’s momentum. The outcome was, in fact, disastrous. In 1997, the patient’s psychiatrist and a sexology professor in Hawaii exposed the trauma the boy had suffered, and how Money had knowingly distorted the truth in his publications. The child had, in fact, not grown up to identify as a woman, but a man—and transitioned in his 20s.
In 2004, the patient, David Reimer, committed suicide.
The default-to-surgery paradigm, however, had already become entrenched and, in fact, was already being exported around the world.
Despite the horrors of Reimer’s story, Bo and ISNA continued to believe there was no reason to demonize doctors. The goal was to tell the stories of people who had undergone medically unnecessary surgery at an early age, explain to the medical community the destruction these surgeries had done to intersex people, and detail how surgery had failed to deliver the supposed benefits of “normalcy” and happiness.
This was their tactic to move the needle and start advocating to help intersex adolescents and adults seek the care they actually wanted. And then, the thinking went, the non-consensual surgeries would stop, social awareness would garner acceptance, and the intersex community could flourish.
Although Bo herself was invited as a keynote speaker at an AAP conference as early as 2000, even having a seat at the table did not have linear impact.
“Doctors [would tell] me that the parents of intersex kids they’d operated on were happier than the parents of kids whose lives they’d saved,” Bo said, adding that most doctors could not say how the patients themselves felt about it once they reached adulthood because the doctors simply didn’t know—they had lost touch with them.
Bo and other advocates made compromises along the way, some of which led to rifts in the community. During my research on intersex issues around the US, I heard a range of opinions, for example, on what happened in 2006 when Bo agreed to work with a group of physicians on the “Disorders of Sex Development Consensus Statement”—a collaborative paper produced at a conference in Chicago.
An intersex activist in her 60s told me she left the movement when ISNA “allowed the high priests of medicine to call us, ‘disordered.’” Another said he understood the compromise to get a seat at the table, but was disappointed it never produced results: “We’re still seen as freaks that need to be fixed 20 years later.”
In the past decade, activists have worked to claim the space that the “DSD” consensus statement staked out. They quickly replaced “disorders” with “differences”—and today human rights bodies and even a handful of clinics use that language as well. But the default-to-surgery paradigm persists.
A father of a two-year-old child with intersex traits who is a clinical psychologist told me: “If you want to fuck somebody up psychologically, start calling a part of their body deformed and then see how that works out. The whole idea of disease and even the message the surgery sent is that there was something wrong that we had to fix.”
New Words, Same Ways
Despite shifts in terminology, and despite increasing controversy even within the medical community, the cohort of doctors who specialize in intersex treatment has largely clung to the default-to-surgery paradigm. The tone has changed: at least in their writing, doctors now mostly avoid construing surgery as a “quick fix” but rather a “legitimate option.” Teams of specialists— “DSD teams”—that sometimes include mental health providers typically meet with parents as part of the decision-making process.
But despite these advances, the surgical status quo remains largely intact. And medical justifications for cosmetic surgeries ring increasingly hollow.
For example, a 2015 article co-authored by 30 DSD healthcare providers reflecting on genital surgeries stated: “There is general acknowledgement among experts that timing, the choice of the individual and irreversibility of surgical procedures are sources of concerns.” It continued: “There is, however, little evidence provided regarding the impact of non-treated DSD during childhood for the individual development, the parents, society….”
Too often, as in the article by the 30 DSD doctors, the absence of evidence becomes part of the justification for continuing early surgery. The social hypothetical—fears of stigma for the child and chaos for family and society if surgery is delayed—continues to trump the actual harm that people who have undergone surgery suffer.
The foundational medical principle—“do no harm”—seems to dictate exactly the opposite: a moratorium on medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery on intersex children too young to consent unless and until there is evidence that the benefits outweigh the harms.
Real Risks Versus Hypothetical Happiness
There is now a growing body of outcomes data showing that early surgery can lead to physical and psychological harm, if not catastrophe, for intersex people. One of the many risks of “normalizing” surgery is assigning the wrong sex. Add to that the risk of needing additional surgeries to repair mistakes (I interviewed one person who had undergone 39 surgeries to keep his body functioning after a cosmetic operation in adolescence damaged him).
Then there’s scarring, incontinence, loss of sexual sensation and function, psychological trauma including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, the risk of anesthetic neurotoxicity in young children, and the need for lifelong hormonal therapy.
In 2017, Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, Dr. David Satcher, and Dr. Richard Carmona, all former US surgeons-general, wrote that they believed “there is insufficient evidence that growing up with atypical genitalia leads to psychosocial distress,” and “while there is little evidence that cosmetic infant genitoplasty is necessary to reduce psychological damage, evidence does show that the surgery itself can cause severe and irreversible physical harm and emotional distress.” They said: “These surgeries violate an individual’s right to personal autonomy over their own future.”
Despite the data, many physicians who perform the surgery continue to be unmoved. A New York urologist unabashedly published a paper in 2007 documenting how his clitoral surgeries were proven effective and “nerve sparing.” The evidence he offered was produced by inserting vibratory devices in post-operative patients—in some cases, seven-year-old girls—and asking them how strongly they felt it.
More recently, in July 2017 when a hospital in South Carolina settled a medical malpractice suit for its surgery on an intersex infant for nearly $500,000, a psychologist with more than 20 years of experience with intersex patients dug in his heels and defended the status quo. “I never question people’s experiences,” he said. “What I do question is whether their experiences are generalizable to others.”
Bioethicists have documented physicians’ reluctance to change the status quo for decades. Katrina Karkazis, an ethicist at Stanford, wrote in her 2008 book on the topic a number of “folk myths” that doctors perpetuate: “[A]s increasing numbers of studies have begun to demonstrate poor surgical outcomes, some surgeons and other clinical specialists discount even these findings,” she wrote, explaining that doctors believed their surgical techniques were always improving so data from past patients was irrelevant.
Karkazis wrote: “By charging that adequate studies are impossible because they will always assess old techniques, surgeons and others deflect current as well as future scientific and anecdotal evidence of poor surgical outcomes.”
In 2015, when patient advocates and ethicists publicly resigned from the largest research initiative on intersex healthcare to date—a multi-site university hospital project funded by the National Institutes of Health—citing frustration with the continuation of medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children, one bioethicist wrote in her resignation letter that she was finished with “being asked to be a sort of absolving priest of the medical establishment in intersex care.”
Ending Unnecessary Surgeries
The experience of those who have undergone early surgery and the principles of medical ethics suggest that doctors should weigh evident harm over hypothetical benefits. The real question doctors should be asking is how many more of their patients need to suffer before medically unnecessary surgeries end.
Medical and policy leaders have noted the need for a fundamental change in approach. United Nations human rights experts; the World Health Organization; Amnesty International; Physicians for Human Rights; every major lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender legal organization in the US; the American Medical Association Board of Trustees in 2016; three former US surgeons general in 2017, two US pediatrics associations later that year; and intersex-led organizations around the world have called for an end to medically unnecessary non-consensual surgeries on intersex kids.
Many providers who care for intersex children have become increasingly uncomfortable with the current paradigm, but there remains a lack of clear, centralized standards of care for intersex patients.
And so the inertia persists. ISNA has dissolved and Bo has retired from activism, but a new generation of intersex people, whose bodies were operated on decades after Bo’s, have taken up the fight. For Intersex Awareness Day 2017, activist Pidgeon Pagonis staged a protest outside the Chicago hospital where, as a child, Pidgeon’s clitoris, vagina, and gonads were all surgically altered without Pidgeon’s consent.
The hospital issued a public statement saying it was “committed to open communication with the Intersex community and fully respect the diversity of opinions that exist in affected individuals.” But a leaked internal communication struck a rather different tone, perhaps revealing why doctors continue to perform these surgeries decades after they became controversial even within the medical community. In it, the hospital called the protesters’ demands “extreme,” and said the group was targeting hospitals across the country.
Bo told me: “No one has proven that the interventions are necessary to do on an infant…. Even if you find some people who had early surgery who are happy, that doesn’t mean it’s safe or necessary…. There are probably happy people. But there are a lot of very unhappy people—ruined people.”
Trump UK visit: Labour calls US president ‘sexual predator’ and ‘racist’
Protesters launching the Trump blimp, a balloon depicting the US president as a giant baby, in Parliament Square, London Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA
Cleverly withdraws from Tory leadership contest, saying MPs weren’t ‘comfortable’ with plan to skip generation
Turning back to the Tory leadership contest for a moment, James Cleverly, the Brexit minister who was one of several unexpected contenders in the Conservative leadership contests (or no-hopers, if you want to be more cynical), has announced that he is withdrawing from the contest. As of this morning, he had just four MPs supporting him.
Brexit Minister James Cleverly has withdrawn from the Conservative Party’s leadership race, almost a week after declaring his intention to stand.
The Tory MP said it had “become clear” that was “highly unlikely” he would progress to the final two candidates that will appear on the ballot paper.
“Unfortunately and with a heavy heart I’ve decided to withdraw from the race,” he told the BBC.
This leaves 12 Tory MPs competing for the top job.
Last week I announced that I intended to run for the leadership of the Conservative party and as prime minister.
I felt that we needed to deliver Brexit and then quickly move the conversation on to other important issues that face the country. I had hoped that the Conservative parliamentary party would support me to be the face and voice of that conversation.
To do this I asked them to make a leap of faith, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP. It is clear that despite much support, particularly from our party’s grassroots, MPs weren’t comfortable with such a move and it has become clear that it is highly unlikely that I would progress to be one of the final two candidates.
For this reason I have withdrawn from the process of selecting a new leader and will not be submitting nomination papers.
Interviewed on BBC News a moment ago, Cleverly refused to say who he would now be backing for leader.
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of Pride with an interactive video, visualising 50 years of parades.
Celebrating 50 Years of LGBTQ+ Pride//Crimson Tazvinzwa
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of Pride with an interactive video, visualising 50 years of parades. 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place in New York City in late June of 1969, and are often cited as the beginning of the LGBTQ+ rights movement
Tales from the Liverpool city
Stories, objects and memories from Liverpool’s LGBT+ community