A transgender woman in the UK who was convicted of raping two women when she was a man is being sent to a women’s prison to await sentencing, sparking outcry from activists, politicians and even government officials United Nations.
Isla Bryson of Scotland was found guilty this week of carrying out the rapes when she was previously known as Adam Graham, a ‘muscular’ man with a shaved head and tattooed face, according to a report by the Daily Mail. Bryson denied the charges, telling the High Court in Glasgow that any sex was consensual and that she would “never harm another human being”.
However, prosecutors successfully argued to jurors during a six-day trial that Bryson, 31, attacked a victim in 2016 and another in 2019. Both crimes took place in Scotland.
The accused first appeared in court as Adam Graham and was named as such in a 2020 indictment. It was later that year, according to the British press, that she decided to make the transition.
Bryson told the court that she knew she was transgender when she was 4, but didn’t make the decision to transition until she was 29. She told jurors that Adam Graham was her “dead name”.
Now Bryson is taking hormones and requesting surgery to complete the gender reassignment.
She is currently being held at Cornton Vale Women’s Prison, where she would be kept in solitary confinement until sentencing at the end of February. In Cornton, the convicted rapist will undergo a risk assessment to determine whether she will serve the final prison sentence in a women’s or men’s prison.
If Bryson is sent to a women’s prison for the duration of her sentence, it is unclear whether she would remain in solitary confinement. Some observers have argued that it would be a violation of her human rights to be held in solitary confinement indefinitely.
For critics, however, such debates are irrelevant.
“This rapist decided he was no longer a man only after appearing in court for rape,” said Russell Findlay, a Conservative member of the Scottish Parliament. “We now have the utterly perverse situation where a Scottish court refers to someone who says they identify as a woman using ‘her penis’ to rape two vulnerable women. We have warned of the inevitability of this happening if the SNP gender self-identification law is passed, but that it has become a reality is deeply disturbing and an affront to victims.
Findlay was referring to a law passed by the Scottish Parliament last month that allows people as young as 16 to apply for a gender recognition certificate to confirm a legal gender change after living in their new gender for just three months – and without the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
The UK government has officially decided to block the legislation from becoming law, leading to a dispute that may end up having to be resolved in court.
Members of the British Parliament have also spoken out against the idea of sending Bryson to a women’s prison.
“To many people, it will seem like this convicted rapist played with the system in order to try to gain sympathy and end up in a women’s prison,” Joanna Cherry, a Scottish politician who chairs the board, told The Times. Joint Human Rights Committee. Radio. “Women in prison are very vulnerable. Many women in prison have themselves been abused and suffered injuries over the years. … I am very concerned about the safety of female prisoners, with whom a convicted rapist has been placed.
Meanwhile, Susan Smith of For Women Scotland, said it was ‘disgusting’ that Bryson was being held in Cornton Vale; Reem Alsalem, UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, said she “remembered the many times we were told that the idea that predatory and violent men might want to take advantage of the presence of loopholes in the system and weak guarantees to enter female-only spaces was ridiculous.
Despite such opposition, some officials expressed support and confidence in the decision to send Bryson to a women’s prison.
“The facts are that the Scottish Prison Service has a long experience – I’m talking 20+ years – of assessing the risks in our prisons, including those presented by the presence of trans prisoners – both for trans prisoners themselves themselves and other prisoners,” said Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown. “They don’t do this work quickly. They do this over a period of time, involving many different organizations. They do a full risk assessment, and they [make] decisions based on that.
No matter where Bryson is imprisoned, it looks like she’ll be there for a long time.
“You have been found guilty of two extremely serious counts. Given what you have been convicted of, a significant custodial sentence is inevitable,” the judge told him in court. “I’m going to revoke bail and take you into custody until then.”