Ban on transgender women in female prisons extended

New rules banning some transgender women from female prisons in England and Wales will be extended in scope when they come into force on Monday, the Justice Secretary has announced.

Dominic Raab has confirmed that the measures he announced in October affecting trans women who have male genitalia or have committed sexual offences will take hold as of this week.

He announced on Sunday that he has also updated the policy to include transgender women convicted of violent offences as part of the ban.

The extra measure comes after the controversy in Scotland regarding Isla Bryson, a transgender woman who was convicted of raping two women before transitioning from a man known as Adam Graham.

The 31-year-old rapist was convicted in late January and was taken to Cornton Vale – Scotland’s only all-female facility – to be held in segregation to await sentencing.

Following an outcry from the public and politicians, Bryson was moved to the male estate within days and an urgent review was commissioned by Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown.

Mr Raab tweeted: “Tomorrow our new transgender prisoner policy comes into force – a strengthened, common-sense framework that will improve safety for prisoners across England and Wales.

“As we have already promised, transgender women who have male genitalia or have committed sexual offences will no longer be held in women’s prisons – unless in the most exceptional cases, requiring explicit ministerial approval.

“And as of tomorrow we have gone one step further – changing our guidance so that transgender women convicted of violent offences will also no longer be held in mainstream women’s prisons.”

Isla Bryson court case
Isla Bryson, 31, formerly known as Adam Graham, was housed in a female prison after being convicted of rape (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The Cabinet minister was asked about the UK Government’s position on transgender women during an appearance on Sky News.

He said the reason the policy was coming into force on Monday, having been announced four months ago, was because it had taken “time to do it very carefully and assiduously”.

But he denied it was in reaction to Bryson’s case in Scotland.

Mr Raab, speaking to the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, said the UK Government wanted to have a “liberal, sensitive, tolerant approach to the LGBT community as a whole and in particular the trans community”, who he said “suffer a lot in this country” with mental health and bullying.

Explaining the Ministry of Justice position on transgender women in female prisons, he said: “We are very clear that from next week we will introduce new rules which means that any trans offender with their male genitalia intact or who have been convicted of a sexual offence and, adding to that, if they have been convicted of a violent offence, they will not be allowed into the female prison estate.”