Transgender Rapist Will Not Be Imprisoned In Women’s Jail

A trans woman who raped two women before she changed gender will not serve her sentence in a female jail, Scotland’s first minister has said.

Isla Bryson was remanded to Cornton Vale women’s prison after being convicted of carrying out the rapes when she was a man called Adam Graham.

Bryson decided to transition from a man to a woman while awaiting trial.

Nicola Sturgeon has now said Bryson would be removed from the prison soon and would not serve her sentence there.

Bryson is due to be sentenced next month after being convicted on Tuesday of this week – but where that sentence should be served has been the subject of heated debate, with concerns being raised about the safety of other women in the jail if Bryson was placed there.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said she agreed with the chief executive of Rape Crisis that it was not possible to have a rapist within a women’s prison.

Referring directly to the Bryson case, said: “It would not be appropriate for me, in respect of any prisoner, to give details of where they are being incarcerated.

“But given the understandable public and parliamentary concern in this case, I can confirm to parliament that this prisoner will not be incarcerated at Cornton Vale women’s prison.

“I hope that provides assurance to the public.”

The first minister said any prisoner who poses a risk of sexual offending is segregated from other prisoners including while a risk assessment is carried out.

She said: “There is no automatic right for a trans woman convicted of a crime to serve their sentence in a female prison even if they have a gender recognition certificate.

“Every case is subject to rigorous individual risk assessment and the safety of other prisoners is paramount.”

Ms Sturgeon said she expected that Bryson would not be at Cornton Vale in Stirling – which is currently Scotland’s only women’s prison – by the end of a 72-hour segregated assessment period, which would be soon.

The first minister also stressed it was careful that people “do not, even inadvertently, suggest that trans women pose an inherent threat to women”, adding: “Predatory men, as has always been the case, are the risk to women.”

It came as Bryson’s estranged wife, Shonna Graham, 31, claimed her former partner’s transition was a “sham for attention” and that she is attempting to fool the authorities.

Ms Graham told the Daily Mail: “Never once did he say anything to me about feeling he was in the wrong body or anything. I have a lot of sympathy for real transgender people, it’s a hard thing to live with, but he’s just bullshitting the authorities.”

She also accused Bryson of being abusive in their relationship.

During the court proceedings, Bryson claimed she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not make the decision to transition until she was 29, and is currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

Bryson said that in 2016 she was “struggling with my sexuality and having issues emotionally”.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper earlier criticised the decision to hold the rapist in a women’s jail.

Speaking to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, Ms Cooper said: “This dangerous rapist should not be in a women’s prison and it should be clear that if someone poses a danger to women and committed crimes against women, they should not be being housed in a women’s prison.”

“That is straightforward and I think most people would agree with that.”

Former SNP community safety minister Ash Regan also criticised the move.

Ms Regan quit her post just hours before the Scottish government’s gender recognition reform bill was passed in principle at Holyrood, saying her conscience would not allow her to support the plans.

She said: “Rapists should not be placed in the women’s prison estate. Many female prisoners have been victims of male violence and are vulnerable.

“It is unacceptable – the policy must be urgently changed.”

The Scottish Parliament recently passed legislation aimed at making it easier for people to change theeir legally-recognised sex – but it has been blocked by the UK government over its potential impact on equalities laws that apply across Scotland, England and Wales.