A 39-year-old who was born a female but identifies with a male persona admitted yesterday to sexually abusing an underage girl who lived in the neighbourhood.
Before this, Zunika Ahmad had even "married" two women using a bogus identity. She pleaded guilty in the High Court to six charges of sexual penetration of a minor and one charge of sexual exploitation of a young person.
Another 14 similar charges will be considered when she is sentenced.
Between March 2012 and December 2013, Zunika had regular consensual sex with the girl, who was between 13 and 14 years old. The girl, now 16, cannot be named due to a gag order. Zunika used external aids to abuse the girl.
Diagnosed with gender dysphoria, Zunika dresses and behaves like a man and speaks with a masculine voice. The court heard that she had a "strong desire" to be male and disliked her female characteristics.
As a child, she preferred boys' clothes and toys. When she started menstruating and developed breasts, she felt betrayed by her own body. In her teenage years, she cut her forearms when her mother forbade her to go for a sex-change operation.
In her desire to be male, she stuffed socks down her underwear when she was 17. She also "married" two women who believed that she was an Indonesian man.
In 2001, the first woman, then seven months into a relationship with Zunika, got pregnant when she had a fling with another man.
Not realising that it was impossible, she told Zunika that "he" was the father. They wed in 2002 after Zunika obtained a fake Indonesian passport. In 2008, Zunika "married" the second woman. Both weddings were held in Indonesia.
The family of four lived in an HDB flat that was under the name of the first wife and her daughter.
Both "wives", who were in court yesterday, did not know her true identity until March last year, when the victim told police she had sex with "a 37-year-old male", who turned out to be Zunika.
Zunika hid the fact that she was physically female from her partners. She had sex in the dark or used a pillow or comforter to block their views, Deputy Public Prosecutor Dwayne Lum told the court.
She also told her "wives" that in her culture, women could not touch or see their husband's private parts.
In 2011, the victim and her siblings, who were abandoned by their mother, started going to Zunika's flat to hang out with her "daughter".
Zunika's lawyer, Ms N. Sudha Nair, said that her client came across the girl's Twitter post in which she expressed interest in Zunika. When Zunika asked her about it, the girl confessed her feelings.
In January 2012, Zunika kissed her on the cheek. The next month, Zunika initiated a sexual act on the 13-year-old.
In March 2012, the girl agreed when Zunika asked if she wanted to have sex. They had sex until December 2013, when Zunika put a stop to the affair out of guilt.
In March last year, the girl told her family about the acts after a quarrel with Zunika. The matter was reported to the police.
Deputy Public Prosecutor John Lu sought eight years' jail, arguing that Zunika had abused the trust reposed in her by the girl's father.
But Ms Nair said Zunika did not set out to deceive the girl as she had always lived as a man; neither was she a paedophile.
Ms Nair argued for less than three years' jail so that Zunika can go for sex reassignment surgery and rebuild her life with her two partners and "daughter".