Transgender rape accused tells trial she did not rape two women

A 31-year-old who now identifies as a transgender woman has denied raping two women while she was a man.

Isla Bryson said both alleged victims consented to sexual activity in the separate incidents and she told the High Court in Glasgow: “I would never hurt another human being.”

Bryson, from Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, is on trial accused of raping two women: one in Clydebank in 2016; and one in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019.

The court previously heard in agreed evidence that Bryson now identifies as a transgender woman and was previously known by the “dead name” Adam Graham.

Bryson told the court that she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not make the decision to transition until she was 29, and is currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

Giving evidence as the first defence witness on Friday, she told the court she was struggling with her sexuality and having issues emotionally when she met the first alleged victim in 2016.

The 31-year-old went to stay with the victim, whom she met online, after leaving a brief, unhappy marriage.

Edward Targowski KC, defending, questioned her about the evening of the alleged rape in 2016 and asked whether she forced herself upon the woman.

Bryson told the court: “No, I did not, there was barely any sexual activity between us.”

Asked whether she raped the alleged victim, she said: “No, I did not do that and I would never hurt another human being.”

Describing how she was feeling in 2016, Ms Bryson told the court: “At that time, I was struggling with my sexuality and having issues emotionally.

“I knew that I was gay, I’d slept with men under the radar but nobody knew.”

Commenting on where she is now with her transition, she told the court: “I’ve got my top half,” referring to her breasts which she said were due to the hormones, and added: “I want all the surgeries the NHS can give me, I want facial surgery, laser, gender.”

Bryson denies the charges against her and has lodged special defences claiming the sex was consensual.

Mr Targowski also asked Bryson about the incident in 2019.

She said she met the second alleged victim on an app and went to meet her at the woman’s house after being invited over.

Bryson told the court they did have sex but said: “She consented to everything.”

Asked by Mr Targowski whether she raped the woman in 2019, she replied: “I did not do it. I did not do this.”

Closing the Crown case on Friday, advocate depute John Keenan withdrew charges that Bryson attempted to defeat the ends of justice by asking the first alleged victim to wash the sheets, and of punching the second alleged victim, and she was acquitted of the two charges.

Earlier, the court heard from the mother of the alleged 2016 victim, a Crown witness, who said she heard her daughter saying, “no, don’t do that, stop” from behind her bedroom door on the night she was allegedly raped by Bryson.

She told the court the accused was in a relationship with her daughter, who lived with her, and regularly stayed over.

The court heard the accused was staying over on the night of the alleged incident in 2016, and the mother said she heard her daughter speaking when she passed her bedroom after waking to go to the toilet.

The mother said: “When I was going to the toilet I heard her saying, ‘no, don’t, don’t do that’, but I just put it down to being embarrassed. I went away to the living room.”

Asked by the advocate depute to clarify what she heard her daughter say, she said: “No, don’t do that, stop.”

Mr Keenan asked: “Is that something you heard her say once or did you hear it more?”

She replied: “She said it a couple of times.”

Asked whether she did anything, she said: “No, I was annoyed, I just went in the living room.”

The mother said that in 2016 Bryson was bald with a tattoo on the face, below 5ft 5in in height and of quite stocky build.

Cross-examining Bryson, Mr Keenan asked whether she knew the mother was in the house at the time of the incident.

She replied: “No, I didn’t and if a mother heard her daughter saying no, no, no, she would’ve rushed in and not gone in the living room.”

After finishing her evidence, Bryson turned to judge Lord Scott and said: “I want to prove to you, if it’s okay to prove to you, that I do only like men, I’ve got proof on my phone. I only sleep with men.”

Lord Scott adjourned the trial until Monday.