Scottish prisons have abandoned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s policy on self-identification for transgender people after the controversy surrounding a rapist being accommodated in a female prison. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) announced it will now decide where to send new inmates based on their biological sex, dismissing their preferred gender identity.
This goes further than the SNP’s measures following the Isla Bryson scandal – the Scottish Government announced it would stop trans prisoners “with any history of violence against women” from being housed in female jails.
Trans prisoners had previously been told they would be “allocated” based on their gender identity.
The row surrounding Isla Bryson, who committed the crimes while still named Adam Graham, came shortly after the Scottish Parliament passed a law making it easier to self-identify.
Under the policy, the need for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria was removed, with supporters saying this would help streamline the process.
The age at which people would be able to change their gender also dropped from 18 to 16.
But critics of the policy warned it could threaten women’s safety and women-only spaces.
Last month, a victim of Isla Bryson’s said the rapist should not be considered a woman.
The victim told the Sunday Mail that her first thought about hearing of her attacker’s prison transfer was: “What about the ladies in there?”
Meanwhile, a former partner of Isla’s said Ms Sturgeon and the Scottish Government had been “manipulated by a liar”.
They told the Scottish Mail on Sunday: “I think it was shocking to put Bryson in a women’s prison in the first place.
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“The man I know as Adam is manipulative when it comes to women and a very real danger to anyone in a vulnerable state, which many female prisoners are in there.
“It could have had terrible consequences. It’s a pity it was only after public pressure that Nicola Sturgeon saw sense. Adam needs to be in a male prison, whatever he says he is.”
Despite the widespread concern surrounding women’s safety, a recent review by the SPS concluded that women were “not at risk of harm” when Isla Bryson was transferred to a women’s prison.
The review said that “at no time during this period was any woman in SPS care at risk of harm as a consequence of the management”.
It added that Isla Bryson did not come into contact with any other inmates while at the prison.
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However, the SPS said that it will continue its Gender Identity and Gender Reassignment Policy Review, any transgender person in custody who has a history of violence against women will not be put in a women’s prison.
The SPS did not publish the review in full, however, because of the level of personal information it contains.
This review was criticized by Scottish Conservative shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay MSP.
He said: “As expected, this whitewash summary tells us nothing of any substance.
“We still have no idea why a double rapist was sent into a women’s prison or what involvement SNP ministers had in his removal following the public backlash.
“Given the widespread concern and anger, this report should have been published and in full, not just some woolly summary.”