The Scottish Prison Service has issued guidance saying that biological males who identify as women, including some with a history of violence against women, should be placed in female-only jails in order to allow them to spend time around people of their “affirmed gender”.
Transgender criminals should be “provided the opportunity and supported to work towards” serving their prison sentence in a jail that “aligns with their affirmed gender,” the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said according to the Scottish Daily Express.
The guidance from the SPS argued that in doing so it would allow trans offenders to “have had the opportunity to live with those who share their affirmed gender” before they are released back into the public.
The prison service said that even biological males with a history of violence, including sexual offences, against women should be given the opportunity to be placed in a female prison if there was “compelling” evidence that they no longer presented “an unacceptable risk of harm”.
Even for those who are deemed to be too dangerous to be housed alongside female inmates, the SPS suggested that they be given the chance to be around female inmates, saying that “there may be other ways of supporting their gender identity, for example through access to work parties, activities, or even programmes with others of their gender identity”.
The new guidance represents a major reversal from the SPS’s decision to determine which prison criminals are sent to based on their biological sex in the wake of the scandal of a biologically male rapist, Isla Bryson, being sent to a woman’s prison after being convicted of raping two women while still identifying as a man in 2016 and 2019. Bryson, born Adam Graham, only claimed to be transgender after the trial began.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Sunday, Kate Coleman, of the campaign group Keep Prisons Single Sex, said: “I am horrified at the suggestion that male prisoners who even the SPS deem to be unsafe for the female estate should nevertheless be able to access activities in women’s prisons for reasons that include being able to practise being a woman.
“This is an outrage. I am disgusted that this policy, as inadequate to ensure the safety of women as it is, appears to be hiding a reality that is far more sinister in the danger that it presents to female offenders.”
The SPS recognised that there are concerns over the safety of female inmates “being housed alongside someone with the strength of a person who was assigned male at birth and who has gone through male puberty”.
The report went on to note that there are also concerns about biological males “initiating coercive relationships, and the risk of pregnancy with non-transgender women”.
However, the SPS said that it would be “stigmatising to suggest that only transgender women are a threat” given that violence does come from some “other women” in the prison system as well.
A spokesman for the SPS said: “Our new policy supports the health, safety, and wellbeing of all people living and working in Scotland’s prisons, by taking an individualised approach to the admission, placement, and management of transgender people.
“We will carefully consider a range of factors, including offending history, with a particular focus on violence against women and girls, when assessing risk.”