The Scottish government has decided to move a transgender woman convicted of rape out of an all-female prison following concerns over the safety of other inmates. The decision comes weeks after the Scottish parliament passed a bill to make it easier for people to change their legal gender, drawing criticism from some women’s rights campaigners who argue that predatory men could use it to access single-sex spaces such as bathrooms.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the convicted prisoner, Isla Bryson, would not be incarcerated at Cornton Vale women’s prison in central Scotland. Bryson was convicted this week of raping two women in 2016 and 2019 when she was a man called Adam Graham.
The move follows concerns raised by campaigners, politicians, and a United Nations human rights expert over Bryson being housed in a women’s prison. Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross stated, “Before the [gender bill] even comes into force, rapists are already exploiting current laws. We shouldn’t make it any easier for them to attack women.”
The Scottish government’s gender bill has deepened a rift with the government of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, with the two already at loggerheads over whether Scotland can hold another independence referendum. The bill, passed in December, made Scotland the first nation of the United Kingdom to back a self-identification process for changing gender, including removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and lowering the minimum age to 16 from 18.