Transgender rapist will not serve time in women’s jail: Sturgeon

Scotland’s first minister says a trans woman convicted of raping two women will not serve a sentence in the nation’s only all-female prison.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon answers questions
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been forced into a 'humiliating U-turn', according to some Scottish media, in the case of a trans convict [Andy Buchanan/AFP]

A transgender woman who raped two women before beginning to transition will not be sent to Scotland’s only all-female prison, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday.

Isla Bryson, 31, previously known as Adam Graham, was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday of raping one woman in 2016 and another in 2019.

Bryson, who claimed during the trial to have decided to transition gender aged 29, was reportedly due to be held at Cornton Vale women’s prison ahead of sentencing next month, stirring widespread public anger.

The case comes with transgender issues in the spotlight in Scotland after Sturgeon’s devolved government passed legislation last month to make it easier for people to self-identify their gender.

The United Kingdom’s government has subsequently blocked the law from obtaining royal assent, citing the potential negative impact on UK-wide equalities legislation, and setting up a legal showdown between the two governments.

“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,” Sturgeon told Scotland’s devolved parliament.

“I hope that provides assurance to the public, not least the victims in this particular case.”

Some Scottish media said Sturgeon had been forced into a “humiliating U-turn”.

During court proceedings, Bryson claimed to have wanted to change gender since the age of four and to be currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

But Bryson’s estranged wife, Shonna Graham, 31, has questioned her former partner’s motives for the decision in newspaper interviews.

According to her, Bryson “never once” mentioned feeling “in the wrong body or anything”, she told the Daily Mail, adding it was a “sham for attention”.

The UK’s shadow interior minister, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, told BBC Radio on Thursday that “this dangerous rapist should not be in a women’s prison”.

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

However, Fiona Cruickshanks, head of operations and protection at the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), earlier said that “any transgender person who is admitted into custody is admitted into the establishment that matches their identified gender.

“If an individual inmate poses a particular risk, they can be removed and separated from other prisoners,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies