Scottish trans prisoner U-turn as inmates housed according to birth sex following self-ID backlash

10 February 2023, 10:27 | Updated: 10 February 2023, 10:31

Isla Bryson was convicted of rape and moved from Cornton Vale to a male wing at HMP Edinburgh following public backlash over Scotland's self-ID policy
Isla Bryson was convicted of rape and moved from Cornton Vale to a male wing at HMP Edinburgh following public backlash over Scotland's self-ID policy. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

Scottish trans prisoners will initially be placed in jails according to their sex at birth, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has confirmed, abandoning Nicola Sturgeon’s self-identification policy.

Under the initial plans, newly convicted or remanded prisoners were set to be categorised under the gender they identified as rather than their sex at birth.

The climbdown comes as a result of an urgent review and follows fierce debate surrounding the case of double rapist Isla Bryson, who committed the crimes while she was known as a man called Adam Graham.

Although born male, the prisoner considered herself a woman and as such, policy dictated Bryson be placed in a women's jail.

Bryson is set to be sentenced later this month.

As such, the policy dictated Bryson be placed in a women's jail, noting the prisoner did not put female prisoners at risk of harm.
As such, the policy dictated Bryson be placed in a women's jail, noting the prisoner did not put female prisoners at risk of harm. Picture: LBC / Alamy

Highlighting the prisoner did not put female prisoners at risk of harm, the rmove sparked bitter public backlash, and later saw Bryson moved from Cornton Vale to a male wing at HMP Edinburgh.

Noting it had received "conflicting" details on the risk posed by Isla Bryson, the SPS also called for an urgent review of admission rules in the cases of certain inmates.

The U-turn goes much further than a policy initially announced by SNP ministers shorty after the backlash erupted, which only banned trans prisoners “with any history of violence against women” from being sent to female jails.

Read more: Scottish cops refer to arrested transgender butcher as 'man' despite Sturgeon's controversial gender reform attempts

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An investigation ordered by Justice Secretary Keith Brown in light of the backlash, he said inmates would now be sent to a prison housing their birth gender before undergoing individual assessments.

"That will very often be a process which is undertaken in a segregated environment, before an assessment is made as to where the person goes," he said in a recent interview with the BBC.

SPS has made a U-turn where Nicola Sturgeon's self-ID prisoner policy is concerned.
SPS has made a U-turn where Nicola Sturgeon's self-ID prisoner policy is concerned. Picture: LBC / Alamy

"And if it turns out the person has that history [of violence against women or girls] then of course they will not be going to, if they are a trans woman, to the female estate."

SPS chief executive Teresa Medhurst penned an open letter to Mr Brown that accompanied a summary of the Bryson case review, noting she had ordered an urgent review of all transgender women in Scottish prisons.

She said: "Until these reviews are complete, any transgender person currently in custody and who has any history of violence against women - including sexual offences - will not be relocated from the male to the female estate.

"In addition, any newly convicted or remanded transgender prisoner will initially be placed in an establishment commensurate with their birth gender."

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