Close prison call for transgender woman
A TRANSGENDER woman has been warned not to "dine out" on her gender identity after again escaping jail time - in a male prison.
Jadee Walker, who went to 19 schools from Prep to Year 12, was told to consider herself lucky after acting magistrate Peter Smid opted not to send her to jail for five stealing charges while on a suspended sentence.
"But I think your chances are running out," he told her.
Walker, who was abused as a child, was stealing clothes, food and items to hock, just to stay alive, the Townsville Magistrates Court heard.
She would have been required to spend any period of imprisonment in a male corrective services facility, her lawyer said.
Nikki Butler, for Legal Aid Queensland, pleaded with the magistrate.
"Ms Walker is currently receiving hormone treatment, and identifies as a transgender woman," she said.
Acting magistrate Peter Smid said that was probably why Walker had been given suspended sentences in the past.
"You can't dine out on it forever," he said.
Shuffled between houses, living with her mother who had a methamphetamine addiction, her alcoholic grandmother and in foster care, Walker had become homeless and living rough on the streets of Brisbane.
Walker's life began to turn around in September last year when the 21-year-old moved to Townsville to live with her sister.
But she still had to deal with her criminal past. Charged with five counts of stealing, five breaches of bail and two failures to appear, Ms Butler asked for her client's suspended sentence not to be activated.
Ms Butler said since Walker moved to Townsville, Walker had only received one charge - a breach of bail - when she was "tardy" in changing her address.
"That (the move) has been an exceptional change for Ms Walker," Ms Butler said.
"During that time she has remained abstinent from the use of amphetamines, and stable housing, she is looking for work."
Ultimately, Mr Smid said he would give Walker the benefit of the doubt and sentenced her to a total of 15 months and set January 10 as the parole date.
"Consider yourself very lucky to escape a prison sentence today," he said. "For the next 15 months, you will be a prisoner on parole, and that means the parole authorities can just pick you up."
Queensland Corrective Services was contacted for comment.