I saw a Youtube video about Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, a convicted fraudster that happened to be transgender. The narrator in the video mentioned that Some People claim that people might transition between genders to avoid prosecution for crimes committed in their original gender.

This being Meta, I'm not asking if this is the case. I'm instead asking if and when it is appropriate to ask a "has there ever been a case of X".

To continue with the example, would it be acceptable to take accusations against Mrs. Carmichael as the base claim to ask if a trans person ever transitioned to avoid prosecution? What about Chelsea Manning? Or, would I need to dig up Some People's original claim on the matter?

4 Answers 4


I found the question confusing.

  1. If someone claims:

    There has never been an instance of X!

    You would test the claim by asking

    Has there every been an instance of X?

  2. If someone claims:

    There have been instances of X!

    You would test the claim by asking

    Has there every been an instance of X?

  3. If someone claims:

    I don't know of any instances of X, but there might be some in the future.

    it is unfalsifiable. You can't test the claim.

  4. If someone claims:

    Someone has an ulterior motive for performing this action.

    it is unfalsifiable. You can't test the claim.


Generally, if you can provide a source to show notability for the specific 'There has never been' / 'Has there ever been' claim, I'd say it is on topic (and we do have a couple of well received has there ever been questions).

And generally, you don't have to search for the original claim if you can provide a notable source which repeats the claim. I'd say that holds true even if it is repeated in a relatively weak 'some people claim' form. You shouldn't build your own claim though (so if you have a source that claims X about trans people, but doesn't mention Chelsea Manning, I don't see a reason to include her in the question).

But with this specific example, I'd still consider it off-topic because it's about Motivation. We don't accept questions which ask why a person did a thing, because it's not answerable using verifiable facts.

Apart from that, I'd also be worried about the question pushing a POV (which doesn't necessarily make a question off-topic here, but which might attract downvotes).

Even if there is a case of this happening (which seems doubtful - after all, why go through the lengthy and difficult process of transition, if you could just as well adopt a different persona without going through transition -), what does that mean? That we shouldn't allow trans people to transition? That we should treat trans people who do transition differently? We don't draw those conclusions for cis people (who also do crime), so it seems like a double standard.


A question like this is problematic because it purports to identify intent. How you prove someone did it in order to "avoid prosecution for crimes committed in their original gender"?

On politics SE, where such questions are alas somewhat common, they are closed with a reason like:

Questions asking for the internal motivations of people, how specific individuals would behave in hypothetical situations or predictions for future events are off-topic, because answers would be based on speculation and their correctness could not be verified with sources available to the public.


Fizz raises the question of intent. Even if so, it's possible to prove intent,

  • If a person is transgender because they claim so.
  • If intent is established through the express claim of the person.
  • Then all you must do is find a person who claimed to be transgender at the time they claim to have intended to avoid a crime.

That sounds hard, but it's actually relatively easy. For example, reactionary demonstrator Amy Desir is a woman that claimed to be a man to get entrance into a male-only swim. It's clear she did it for political reasons and that her transition was to avoid prosecution for trespassing.


Of course, you could argue that she is transitioning only to protest a law which is directly related to the transition. But none the less, she's in a male-swim meet and still transitioning to avoid prosecution/punishment, and her intent is known.

So turns out anti-trans activists are pretty good at transitioning to avoid prosecution (or punishment), even if just to prove a point.

On the greater question of the principle here, you can ask any question that we have a reasonable ability to answer in a case of whether or not a past potential event has happened, it's going to be on topic if,

  • That event has ever happened and you can show it.
  • In this case, if intent is required, it's on topic if someone can reasonably show intent.

In this case, you have both. So given your question and the provided answer all is good. **That is to say, if the question can be answered a hypothetical that pretends the event may not have happened, or that pretends we can not discern intent is useless to what we do here.

However, If you ask if anyone was ever born in human history w/ 9 legs and 5 hands, it's going to be almost impossible to substantiate that claim because it's far more extraordinary. Can you ask it? SURE! What's happens is in six months with fewer than 3 upvotes, and no answers with positive score, the question will be purged. That's fine. It happens. Somethings don't submit to a reasonable attempt at answering.

  • 1
    The question specifically states "I'm not asking if this is the case. I'm instead asking if and when it is appropriate to ask a 'has there ever been a case of X'." To put it another way, OP is asking, "Is it okay for me to ask question X here?", and you're answering question X instead of the meta-problem that they are actually asking about.
    – F1Krazy
    Jul 28, 2022 at 9:04
  • I've incorporated a more complete response into the answer Jul 28, 2022 at 14:54
  • "It's clear [...] her transition was to avoid prosecution for trespassing" I disagree. It is clear her transition was to make a political point. Which comes back to the point that you can't prove intent.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Aug 11, 2022 at 8:21
  • "So turns out anti-trans activists are pretty good at [...]" No, it is an anecdote that shows one anti-trans activist tried it.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Aug 11, 2022 at 8:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .