She turned up at Cornton Vale prison in a burst of pink: pink jacket, pink leggings, and a pink suitcase on wheels. Surely there could not ever have been a more controversial arrival at the Scottish women’s jail.
Many readers will probably be aware, given the extensive coverage, that before this remarkable transformation, Isla Bryson was none other than muscular, shaven-headed, tattooed double rapist Adam Graham.
Let me, though, briefly recap the farce which culminated in the 31-year-old being committed to this facility, albeit temporarily.
It was, just to be clear, predatory Adam Graham who attacked two women in 2016 and 2019. But by the time the rapist appeared in the dock at the High Court in Glasgow this week she had morphed, like a contestant on the classic TV show Stars In Their Eyes, into Isla Bryson.
Before this remarkable transformation, Isla Bryson (pictured) was none other than muscular, shaven-headed, tattooed double rapist Adam Graham
Bryson, previously known as Adam Graham (pictured), was convicted this week of raping two women in 2016 and 2019 following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow
In court, the prosecutor proceeded to tell the jury that she had raped the two women with her penis – the prosecutor’s word – when still a he. Under Scots law, rape can only be committed by somebody with male genitalia – hence the Orwellian logic that unfolded.
Indeed, this whole scenario could have come from a passage in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell’s dystopian novel about a regime that manages to invert the truth.
The upshot is that Isla Bryson was to be held on remand at Cornton Vale, a women’s unit, until she is sentenced next month.
But negative headlines – rather than common sense, many believe – have now forced Nicola Sturgeon into what will be perceived as a humiliating U-turn in the wake of the publicity the case has attracted – bouncing her, it seems, into an impromptu announcement on Thursday afternoon that Bryson will not serve her time in a female prison amid mounting speculation that she would. Speaking at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon quoted the chief executive of Rape Crisis as saying she did not see how it was possible to have a rapist within a women’s prison. ‘I agree with that statement,’ she said.
Could she have been more disingenuous?
The Isla Bryson/Adam Graham debacle is a consequence, almost everyone would argue, of the prevailing wokeish orthodoxy in Holyrood epitomised by the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would allow anyone over the age of 16 to ‘self-identify’ as the opposite sex without the need for medical evidence or diagnosis.
It led to Police Scotland recording sex offenders as women if the suspect ‘identifies’ as female – even if they are still biologically male – which, apart from what the victims themselves might think, means the policy itself is warping the rape statistics.
The scene at HMP Edinburgh last night where Bryson arrived in time for dinner
Bryson, 31, was moved to a male prison after outrage from campaigners, politicians and a United Nations human rights expert. The rapist will return to court for sentencing next month. Pictured: A prison van believed to be transporting Isla Bryson to a men’s prison is seen leaving Cornton Vale women’s prison in Stirling on Thursday
This is why Adam Graham was charged as a woman, convicted as a woman, and was remanded in a women’s prison; she is now understood to have been removed altogether following Nicola Sturgeon’s statement.
But there are other ‘Isla Brysons’. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) was asked how many transgender women were currently in Scottish women’s prisons.
They sent us the most up to date figures contained in the service’s quarterly report.
As of September, there were five transgender women prisoners, according to the table of statistics. And, it seems, there may be more.
Aside from these dry figures, however, is a more worrying set.
In response to an earlier freedom of information request (in June last year), the SPS revealed that of the 16 trans male and female prisoners in total in Scottish jails, eight transitioned on remand or on conviction and six were convicted sex offenders. There is no information available as to who of that number may currently be requesting a move to a women’s prison.
The disclosure underlines concerns that some of these individuals are simply exploiting the system to receive easier ‘jail time’ in a less harsh environment or are acting with more sinister ulterior motives; the analogy of a fox in a chicken coop springs to mind, in that respect.
We highlight numerous examples of such predatory behaviour today. One particularly controversial transgender prisoner is 6ft 5in Katie Dolatowski, a convicted paedophile.
In December, when Katie was sent to Cornton Vale – the same all-female prison from which Bryson has just been removed – protesters gathered outside to demonstrate against the ‘outrageous and completely inappropriate’ transfer.
Back in 2018, the 22-year-old, who was born male but identifies as female, assaulted a 10-year-old girl in the lavatory of Morrisons supermarket in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
The girl was shoved into a cubicle and ordered by Dolatowski to remove her trousers. Her mother said her daughter was hysterical after the attack and suffered flashbacks.
A month earlier, Dolatowski secretly filmed a 12-year-old girl on the toilet at another supermarket.
Rhona Hotchkiss is a former governor of Cornton Vale women’s prison. ‘The vast majority of prisoners [like Isla Bryson] don’t identify as transgender until they have either been arrested, charged or imprisoned,’ she told me.
‘I think they do believe it will be an easier sentence spent in the women’s estate in many respects because women’s prisons are not as aggressive, not as seriously violent as men’s prisons.’
Katie Dolatowski (pictured) was sent to Cornton Vale – the same all-female prison from which Bryson has just been removed – protesters gathered outside to demonstrate against the ‘outrageous and completely inappropriate’ transfer. Back in 2018, the 22-year-old, who was born male but identifies as female, assaulted a 10-year-old girl in the lavatory of Morrisons supermarket in Kirkcaldy, Fife
Paris Green, who transitioned in 2011, lured a man to her flat, tied him up and tortured him for several hours, sexually assaulting him and beating him so badly they left a footprint on his neck. Within weeks of her arrival at Cornton Vale, after being accused of having sex with other prisoners, she was moved to the women’s wing at HMP Edinburgh
Had she dealt with inappropriate behaviour? ‘Yes,’ she replied. ‘I have come across men claiming to be women who then go on to behave in a very sexual ways in women’s prisons.’
She believes staff at Cornton Vale ‘will not be happy’ that Isla Bryson was being held there at all or that Katie Dolatowski was transferred to the jail, which is situated between Edinburgh and Glasgow. ‘They will hate this,’ she said.
Paris Green (born Peter Laing) began a minimum 18 year term at Cornton Vale in 2013.
Along with two accomplices, 22-year-old Green, who transitioned in 2011, lured a man to her flat, tied him up and tortured him for several hours, sexually assaulting him and beating him so badly they left a footprint on his neck.
Within weeks of her arrival at Cornton Vale, after being accused of having sex with other prisoners, she was moved to the women’s wing at HMP Edinburgh.
Earlier this month, Jonathon Mallon, 40, who was jailed for life in 2014 after sex attacks on a string of vulnerable women, reportedly told the authorities at the Edinburgh jail that he now wants to be called ‘Charlene’. He is said to have bragged to fellow inmates that he will be moved to a women’s jail by Easter.
However, perhaps no one illustrates the entitlement of transgender prisoners more than 36-year-old Sophie Eastwood, who was born as Daniel Eastwood.
Eastwood, who was given 18 months in a young offenders’ institute for dangerous driving in 2014, was due for release when he fatally strangled his cellmate with a pair of shoelaces and was jailed for a minimum of 15 years.
He ‘transitioned’ to a woman in 2018 but now identifies as a baby at Polmont (a male young offenders’) prison in Falkirk. Here, she demands that guards give her nappies, blend her meals like baby food, and provide her with a dummy – and hold her hand – whenever she leaves her cell.
It sounds ridiculous – it is ridiculous – but the gender identity and gender reassignment protocols in Scottish prisons, developed with the Scottish Trans Alliance and pressure group Stonewall, affords extensive privileges to transgender inmates.
36-year-old Sophie Eastwood, (pictured) who was born as Daniel Eastwood, ‘transitioned’ to a woman in 2018 but now identifies as a baby at Polmont prison in Falkirk. Here, she demands that guards give her nappies, blend her meals like baby food, and provide her with a dummy – and hold her hand – whenever she leaves her cell
They should be allowed, the policy states, ‘clothing, prosthetics, chest-binders, hair-pieces/wigs and other equipment needed to facilitate their gender reassignment and express their gender identity.’
The predatory behaviour of transgender prisoners generally was highlighted in a study in the British Journal of Criminology last year by Dr Matthew Maycock, an academic at Dundee University.
He interviewed biologically female inmates at four Scottish prisons. One inmate told of one prisoner called ‘Susan’.
Referring to Susan by the male pronoun, the inmate said: ‘His views were totally wrong. He wanted to be in this hall because he wanted to have sex with loads of lassies.’ Another recalled an uncomfortable first encounter with trans inmate ‘Miriam’.
‘I’m not saying I’m a prude but this person (‘Miriam’) sat down, within the first five minutes of meeting him [he said], “Oh, aye, that 50 Shades Of Grey, that’s too timid, that’s too mild for me.”
‘This is a big heavy man… He’s a big intimidating man.’
Several woman complained about men who had transitioned in custody before reverting to their birth gender upon release.
One told Dr Maycock: ‘We treated that lassie (Ruth) as a female. I treated that lassie with the greatest respect.
‘And I always said, what do you need?’ and then when ‘Janice’ [another inmate] told us that after she [got out she transitioned back to a man], it hurt us, because we tried to help her, we tried to make her feel welcome.
‘I felt personally she was a man wanting an easy escape from the male estate.’
A third woman, speaking about the same issues, is also quoted in the report.
‘The last one to get out… living as a man,’ she reveals. ‘The one before that got out, back living as a man. While he was in hall, was telling people “I’m stopping taking my medication because I can’t get a h*** **.”
‘I’ve not got a problem living with trans people, it’s living with people who are manipulating the system and pretending to be trans.’
Negative headlines – rather than common sense, many believe – have now forced Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) into what will be perceived as a humiliating U-turn in the wake of the publicity the case has attracted – bouncing her, it seems, into an impromptu announcement on Thursday afternoon that Bryson will not serve her time in a female prison amid mounting speculation that she would
It is a similar picture in England where the number of trans prisoners has surged.
At the end of March 2022, there were 230 prisoners with a gender different to the one they were born with – up from 197 the previous year. Of these, 162 were transgender women who had been born male – and six of them were in female prisons, the Ministry of Justice disclosed in its annual equalities report.
Of the 230, 97 – 42 per cent – had been jailed for sex crime. It is likely that most were biological males living as women rather than vice versa since the vast majority of sexual offences are committed by men.
Doesn’t the evidence make a mockery of what’s happening in our prisons at the moment – on both sides of the border?
In the wake of the Isla Bryson/Adam Graham farce, policy analyst Lucy Hunter Blackburn, a former civil servant with the Scottish Government who published her own report into the way trans prisoners were treated, said: ‘We have two systems at work here, the Scottish and the English system and they are both falling apart.
‘We are at a point in history where people want to break down barriers and think differently.
‘But I don’t think normalising the presence of rapists and sex offenders in women’s prisons is the way forward.
‘No one has a cushy life in prison but there are a disproportionate number of prisoners identifying as trans.
‘Isla Bryson was convicted of two relatively recent rapes.
‘You have to wonder what you have to be convicted of to be assessed as too high a risk to go to a women’s prison.’
She has now been removed, of course. But would she have been if there hadn’t been such an uproar?