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by Louise Wilson
02 February 2023
Nicola Sturgeon refuses to say whether Isla Bryson is a man

Nicola Sturgeon refuses to say whether Isla Bryson is a man

Nicola Sturgeon has refused to say whether convicted rapist Isla Bryson is a man or a woman.

The First Minister said she did not have “enough information” to say either way, though she accepted it was “almost certainly the case” that Bryson was pretending to be trans to game the system.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross raised the matter during first minister’s questions, saying “dangerous and violent men” were abusing the system.

He asked: “Adam Graham, who wants to be known as Isla Bryson, raped two women. He is an abusive man seeking to exploit loopholes in the government's current policy… Is this double rapist a woman?”

Sturgeon replied: “This individual claims to be a woman. What I said is that I don’t have information as to whether those claims have validity or not.”

She added that what was “relevant” to this discussion about where Bryson should serve his sentence was not gender but that he has been convicted for rape.

Bryson was initially held at Cornton Vale women’s prison, though segregated from the general population, after a guilty verdict for the rape of two women was handed down.

He was moved to the male prison estate shortly after.

The Scottish Prison Service’s current policy on trans prisoners is to undertake individual risk assessments before deciding where they should serve their sentence.

The latest figures show nine of the 15 trans prisoners in Scotland are housed in the prison which correlates to their sex, while the remaining six are in the prison estate which matches their acquired gender.

Ross also raised concerns about prisoners accessing female-only spaces after release.

He said: “Sex offenders like him [Bryson] can force their way into women’s spaces.”

Sturgeon said the exemptions under the Equality Act enabled trans women to be excluded from single sex spaces, “regardless of whether or not they have a gender recognition certificate”.

“For any sex offenders on release of prison, there are monitoring arrangements… to ensure that any continuing risk posed by individuals, regardless of gender, are properly managed,” she added.

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