The issue of trans rights was under the microscope last week in Scotland when Isla Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham, was sent to a women-only prison following a double conviction for rape.
Graham had identified as a man when he raped two women in 2016 and 2019, and only announced he wanted to transition three years ago.
After a public outcry over the decision taken by prison bosses last week to place Bryson in Cornton Vale women’s prison, the wider discussion in Scotland about trans rights quickly became focused on how appropriate it is for trans women to be eligible to serve their time in a women’s prison.
The Scottish government heeded the deafening calls of the public, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a statement confirming Bryson had been moved to a male prison in Glasgow.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown subsequently announced a “pause” on transgender prisoners with a history of violence against women being placed in women-only prisons subject to a review.
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The Scottish parliament recently voted in favor of legislation that would make it much easier for trans people to legally change their gender, and Nicola Sturgeon’s governing Scottish National Party (SNP) is insistent on pushing through its controversial gender reforms, despite measures being taken from the U.K. government to thwart the plans.
Sturgeon has for some time toed the liberal line for trans equality and previously insisted that “trans women are women.” She was pressed on this statement in an excruciating interview on Monday with ITV News during which she failed to explain her government’s newfound hesitancy in sending men who now identify as women to female prisons.
Questioned by journalist Peter Smith, Sturgeon insisted that trans women are women but claimed “there are circumstances in which a trans woman will be housed in a male prison estate.”
Asked whether there would ever be circumstances in which a woman who was born a woman would be housed in a male prison estate, Sturgeon replied, “I don’t think there are circumstances there.”
“So it’s different for trans women?” Smith asked.
“Well, yes!” Sturgeon admitted.
“So they’re not equal?” Smith asked.
“There is a risk assessment process done for trans women that takes account the nature of the crime. Clearly significant concern arises out of sexual crime, and whether it’s appropriate for them to be in a female prison or a male prison,” the first minister responded.
“My god.. this is so excruciating. Sturgeon has lost her mind,” broadcaster Piers Morgan tweeted in response to the interview, which went viral on social media.
Prominent Scottish entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne added, “She has no idea. If you want to protect women and children, we must not allow a man to declare himself a woman and enter woman’s spaces immediately after that declaration.”
Women’s rights campaigners were quick to jump on Sturgeon’s hypocrisy, after she finally admitted there is a difference between trans women and women, including prominent author J.K. Rowling who tweeted in jest, “I don’t know about you, but excluding women from women’s prisons just because they’ve got penises, male pattern baldness and have committed a couple of rapes seems awfully TERFy to me.”
Helen Joyce, a best-selling author who frequently campaigns for women’s rights said, “Not to say I told you so, but the subtitle of my book ‘Trans’ is ‘When Ideology Meets Reality’ — and that’s what we’re watching here.”
“I wish I hadn’t been right when I said women’s and children’s rights were being destroyed by a misogynistic ideology, but they are,” she added.
Similarly, author and political commentator Douglas Murray claimed “the ideology does not hold when it meets reality (…) This is what it looks like to see lies fall apart in real time.”