LONDON: Scotland’s government said Sunday it would stop transferring transgender women with a history of violence against women to its all-female prison, days after a rapist was removed from the facility.
It was just the latest development in a long running controversy that has pitted trans rights campaigners against feminists who say that women-only spaces are being compromised.
The government’s announcement came after transgender woman Isla Bryson, 31, convicted of raping two women before her transition, was removed from the all-female Cornton Vale women’s prison this week following a public outcry.
British media have also reported that another transgender woman prisoner, Tiffany Scott, deemed a security risk after harassing a 13-year-old girl, was due to be transferred to an all-female jail.
Scottish justice minister Keith Brown said he had ordered an urgent review of current practices.
The issue of transgender women committing violent and sexual offences was “a highly emotive subject and that the public concern is understandable”, he said.
But he warned against stigmatising transgender women as an inherent threat to women, stressing that “predatory men are the risk to women”.
Transgender issues are in the spotlight in Scotland after its devolved government passed legislation in December to make it easier for people to self-identify their gender.
The British government has blocked the law from obtaining royal assent, citing the potential negative impact on UK-wide equalities legislation setting up another legal showdown between Edinburgh and London.
Brown said Sunday’s announcement was unconnected with Scotland’s blocked law, which would end the need for a medical diagnosis to self-identify as transgender and lower the qualifying age from 18 to 16.
Some feminist activists criticised the Scottish legislation precisely because they feared it would allow sexual predators to gain access to women-only spaces, despite provisions in the text.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s pro-independence administration in Edinburgh has accused London of politicising the sensitive topic. LGBTQ activists have also denounced the move to block the law. - AFP