Verdict Without a Winner
“P-Please wait a moment. Joel Santana is a man, isn’t he? He applied as a man on his immigration documents as well, you know?”
“That’s right, Your Honor. Joel is biologically a man.”
“I don’t understand what you are trying to get at.”
The judge seemed confused.
He didn’t understand what I was saying.
Even in the twenty-first-century, this kind of thinking was something that was not fully supported either.
“Biological sex is not necessarily the same as gender identity, Your Honor.”
“Yes. Most people don’t even notice these things because their sexes and genders are the same, but there’s a minority of people that suffer because both of those things don’t match.”
“And Joel Santana is one of those people?”
The judge shot a serious gaze over to Joel.
Joel’s body and face looked very masculine, so there were hardly any feminine aspects to be found.
“It’s true that in stage plays, there are masculine roles played by women, and feminine roles played by men, but no matter how you look at him, he looks just like a normal man, doesn’t he?”
“This isn’t a matter of appearance. This is about what gender each individual perceives themselves as.”
This was something I mentioned back in Yuu-sama’s case, but Joel was suffering from gender dysphoria.
“Joel, can I hear this directly from you? What you’re thinking about and what it is that you’re worrying about.”
When I prompted Joel for an answer, he stubbornly held his mouth for a while, but eventually, he chose to speak.
“I was born as the eldest son of a soldier.”
His low-baritone voice began to tell us his story.
“I was born and raised as a man. I was raised to improve my strength as a man in order to pursue a future as a soldier.”
I thought it was heartbreaking seeing just how indifferent he seemed while speaking.
“But there was something I started wondering about ever since I was young. Why was I born and trapped in this body? My body shouldn’t be like this.”
This was a common view for those suffering from gender dysphoria.
“The more I trained my body, the more masculine I became. As I grew up, I became more and more uncomfortable in my own body, to the point where I couldn’t even control just how much I hated it.”
Joel’s tone seemed calm.
As if he were desperately trying to keep his emotions from overflowing.
“Occasionally, I’d try using my mother’s makeup behind her back. Of course, it didn’t look good on a face like mine. However, that was the only time where I could feel mysteriously calm.”
Some might view that as a compensatory act or as a way of lying to yourself, or others may think of it as nothing more than symptom relief.
However, even if it’s something that can’t be cured, it’s a fact that this was something that was painful enough to seek relief from it.
“I heard a few rumors while I was in Bauer – that there was a cosmetician in the Empire whose services were so good they were considered divine. When I arrived to the Empire, I searched for that cosmetician. If I did that, perhaps I…… even with this face of mine, I could be reborn…… or something like that.”
Before, we had seen Joel walking through the red-light district, but he wasn’t there to play with a woman or anything.
He had been hunting for that rumored cosmetician this whole time.
“And in the middle of my search, I met Berta. She told me she knew somebody that was good with makeup, so I ended up going over to her house one day. I didn’t really remember her, but she seemed to remember me. And then she asked me why I was interested in wearing makeup. I answered her honestly, but――”
Joel’s face became distorted.
“Berta told me that if I didn’t want my secret to be exposed, I had to pay her money. It wasn’t the appropriate amount that you’d pay a cosmetician or anything. She asked for an extravagant amount. When I refused, she told me she’d spread a rumor about me. When I thought it was over, I immediately left. Everything else is exactly how you described it, Rei.”
Joel explained it, seeming indifferent.
But there was one more important thing that we needed to note.
“Joel, let me ask you something that might be difficult for you to answer. Which would you prefer as a partner in a romantic sense, a man or a woman?”
“…… A man.”
The audience became excited.
It was unbearable to see my student being looked upon like he was a rare beast in a zoo, but right now, I decided to focus on clearing all of the suspicion and charges surrounding Joel.
“Your Honor. As you can see, there is no reason for him to assault somebody like Berta.”
“But…… If that’s the case, then why does Berta Balke have all of those injuries on her?”
That was the remaining unresolved mystery.
“Regarding that, I received a testimony that covers it. Would you please grant me permission to speak about it, Your Honor?”
“I will allow it.”
Claire-sama stood up and opened her mouth.
“There was somebody that Berta-san was going out with―― or rather, there was a man that was following her. His name is Damien Carossa. It seemed that he was holding one of Berta-san’s weaknesses by a leash and would solicit money from her. That was the testimony I received from one of her coworkers at the bar.”
“Plus, I received a testimony from Damien himself. Rather, I doubt that it could even be called a testimony at all.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Damien seemed to be messing around with illegal drugs. He was hardly in the right state of mind. This is just a conjecture of mine, but perhaps the person that Berta-san was assaulted by was actually Damien. Am I wrong?”
When Claire-sama posed the question to Berta, the latter looked down speechlessly.
“Objection! That is a baseless accusation.”
“I reject the objection. Berta Balke, answer this while swearing by God’s name. Were you assaulted by Damien Carossa?”
When the judge asked Berta, she remained silent.
Most likely, her attorney told her to stay quiet in order to avoid making any disadvantageous statements.
“So you’re choosing to remain silent, huh. Very well. In that case, I will dismiss all of the charges surrounding Joel Santana. Any objections?”
“Wait, Your Honor!”
The lawyer answered with vigor; however,
“……. No objections.”
Berta replied softly.
“Berta! We can still fight back!”
“…… No, it’s okay. This is fine.”
Berta removed herself from the witness stand as she muttered.
As for why she chose to protect Damien, why she didn’t accuse Damien from the start, and why she tried to pin the blame on Joel instead, those remained mysteries.
Perhaps she had a compelling reason behind it.
In my past life, there were a lot of novels or anime that involved women attempting to pin sexual crimes on men, but in those cases, the women would be portrayed as absolutely malicious.
However, those cases didn’t happen very often in real life.
I’m not saying they don’t happen at all.
But they’re infrequent.
Even as the opposite gender, I can understand why men feel so uneasy about being potentially being pinned for those types of crimes by women.
However, the average woman has no reason to do such a thing.
Of course, that being said, it’s a bit strange how every single one of these claims made by women are allowed to pass.
This was a problem that existed within the judicial system in Japan from before I was reincarnated.
But everything has to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In the end, I never learned what happened in Berta’s case.
Perhaps Damien was actually the ringleader about the case, or maybe this was something Berta chose to do out of her own volition.
The trial approached its conclusion while these mysteries remained in the air.
“Now then, Joel Santana. There is something else I must say to you. I will be revoking your qualifications to study in the Empire.”
I was not surprised by this at all.
So this was the case after all.
“I understand your circumstances, but this is the body that God has granted to you. It is considered a sin to go against it. We cannot keep people that commit sins in the Empire.”
Joel was not surprised either.
Not because he was particularly dissatisfied with the verdict, but because he has resigned himself to it.
Joel’s case was different from Yuu-sama’s case, where she suffered from the opposite sex disease.
In Yuu-sama’s case―― aside from the statement the Kingdom officially issued―― she was just returning to her original body.
In contrast, it looked like Joel was denying his “original” body.
When it came to the Spirit Church’s doctrine, these two cases were very different from one another.
In twenty-first-century Japan, this verdict never would’ve been delivered.
However, in this world, that kind of value system has not been developed yet.
“Joel Santana, you will be deported back to the Kingdom of Bauer. You have one month. Please move out before your time is up.”
With that, the judge closed the court.
It was an empty trial where nobody was saved.
TL Note: In the Japanese text, Joel continued to be referred to as “彼” (masculine pronoun), so that is why I kept it as such even after the reveal.