Isla Bryson in court in Glasgow on January 23
Photo: Andrew Milligan / dpa
A trans woman convicted of rape should not be transferred to a women's prison in Scotland.
There are concerns about the safety of other detainees, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.
The case is difficult: Isla Bryson was convicted this week for the rape of two women in 2016 and 2019.
At the time of the crimes, she still had a male identity.
Since then, Bryson has gone through a transition, so as a woman she would have to be placed in a women's prison.
But activists, politicians and a United Nations human rights expert had expressed concerns.
The Scottish government followed suit.
"Given the understandable public and parliamentary concern in this case, I can confirm to Parliament that this prisoner will not be held in Cornton Vale Women's Prison," Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.
London blocked Scottish progressive gender law
The discussion is all the more heated because a few weeks ago the Scottish Parliament passed a law that should make it easier for people to change their gender entry.
However, the British government in London subsequently announced that it would block the change in law because it could affect gender equality issues across the country.
Scotland's devolved parliament can make its own laws, but the UK can veto it if it feels the legislation is interfering with matters that fall within national competence.
With the blockade of Scotland's gender law, Great Britain has made use of this possibility for the first time.
The move has deepened rifts between Scotland and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government in London, who are already at odds over whether Scotland can hold another independence referendum.
Sturgeon called the UK's blocking of gender legislation a "head-on attack" on the Scottish Parliament.
The law, passed in December, would have made Scotland the first UK nation to support a self-identification process when changing gender.
Medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria should no longer be necessary, and the minimum age should be lowered from 18 to 16 years.
It's similar in Germany: The Transsexual Act of 1980, which treats trans people like sick people regardless of medical measures, is to be replaced by a self-determination law.
Britain and the Terfs
In Great Britain there is an even larger movement than in Germany against the dismantling of barriers to self-determination of one's own sex.
A prominent activist of the Terfs (short for trans-exclusive radical feminists, i.e. feminists who do not see trans women as women) is the successful author Joanne K. Rowling, who also clearly opposed the gender law passed in Scotland.
Her often-repeated argument: If people are allowed to determine their gender themselves, this could make it easier for men to pretend to be women and to break into women's rooms and rape women there.
Critics accuse Rowling of generalizing trans people and portraying them all as potential rapists.
However, Joanne K. Rowling feels confirmed by the current case, as she writes on Twitter.
“So in Scotland, trans women are not women if they are convicted double rapists,” she notes, adding, “Remember, Sturgeon, her government, and her supporters have always insisted that it was ridiculous to imagine anyone would dress in women's clothing to gain access to women and girls who are at risk.« That's exactly what happened here, she insinuates.
Similarly, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, said on Twitter: "A rapist who is given access to a women's room is a threat." He described the decision as a "screaming about-face" after Justice Secretary Keith Brown on Wednesday had told members of parliament that he trusted the decision of the prison service.