Readers' Letters: Distinction between biological sex and preferred gender is fundamental

Four months ago First Minister Humza declared that Andrew Miller, a convicted rapist, would not be housed in a women's prison even though Miller claimed to self-identify as a woman.
The likes of transgender double rapist Isla Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham, being sent to a male prison is significant, says reader (Picture: PA)The likes of transgender double rapist Isla Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham, being sent to a male prison is significant, says reader (Picture: PA)
The likes of transgender double rapist Isla Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham, being sent to a male prison is significant, says reader (Picture: PA)

Mr Yousaf was following the precedent set by Nicola Sturgeon when she overruled the self-identification claims of convicted rapists Andrew Burns and Adam Graham and ensured that they were not sent to a women's prison either. In all three cases (Miller, Burns and Graham) the prisoners were sent to men's prisons. They were housed according to their biological sex and their claims to self-identify as women were dismissed.

What these cases show is that the distinction between biological sex and preferred gender is fundamental. Biological sex is based on one’s physical anatomy, whereas preferred gender is a matter of appearances and how one wishes to be regarded by others. In a liberal society people who are unhappy with their biological sex should be free to present themselves as the opposite sex and should be able to choose their social gender. But that freedom has its limits and in certain situations (women's prisons, refuges, sports, etc) one's biological sex will be paramount. Therefore the distinction between biological sex and preferred gender must always be upheld.

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The Gender Recognition Reform Bill does not uphold that distinction adequately. Its primary concern is to speed up the process of self-identification, rather than to clarify those areas where biological sex will still be the determining factor. It says that prisoners who have been convicted of sexual offences should not be housed in a women's prison even though they claim to self-identify as women. The criterion should be biological sex, regardless of self-identification. Th at is the policy which has been adopted by many sporting bodies to prevent biological males using self-identification as a way to gain access to women's competitions.

Mr Yousaf is preparing to waste millions of pounds in a legal tussle with the UK Government over the GRR Bill. What a pointless wrangle! The Bill is not fit for purpose and the legislation should be UK-wide anyway. It is just another example of the SNP stirring up confrontation with the UK Government for its own sake and squandering our precious public funds in the process. No wonder we have no money for police officers, teachers or nurses.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Save Edinburgh

May I add my voice to the letter from Ken Currie (13 September)? I was born and brought up in Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities in the whole world and a city that I love. Sadly, the deterioration in my city has become very noticeable, with weeds and graffiti everywhere, festival and political flyers left long after the events and Princes Street looking so down at heel!

Venice has the right idea with their tourist tax, but the finances raised would have to be guaranteed to be spent on the upkeep and improvement of the city.

Let us save Edinburgh from the Tartan Tat it has become and make it what it rightly should be – the best city in the world.

Joan Dryburgh, Aberdour, Fife

​Canny move?

So Nicola Sturgeon has formed an “artistic creation” limited company, through which, I presume, she'll channel royalty payments from sales of her forthcoming memoir, taking them in the form of dividends.

I note that tax rates on company dividends, determined by Westminster, are 33.75 per cent at the higher rate with an additional rate of 39.35 per cent depending on your overall income, whereas in Scotland the higher rate of income tax, determined by Holyrood, is 43 per cent with a top rate is 47 per cent. Ms Sturgeon surely couldn't be aiming to avoid paying Scotland's eye-watering levels of higher rates of income tax, set by the very SNP administration she once led – could she?

Martin Redfern, Melrose. Roxburghshire

Age formula

Surely the way to uplift pensions is to find a formula for age uplift since, generally speaking, the older one is, the more one's needs for assistance increase. Such a system could also reduce/modify the massive amount of work now involved in allocating various aspects of the benefit system.

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Benchmark years set every five years for uplifts could be introduced, such as 65/68/70 and so on . We already know which ages “kick in” with extra needs so the information is there to be used.

RA Smith, Hadleigh, Suffolk

One last cast

Humza Yousaf has finally realised just about all is lost. To this end he has proposed his slightly new “de facto” independence plan. His party's ratings are plummeting in the polls. Independence not quite yet. Hey presto! Linking his failing party to independence just one more time in a final feeble attempt to win votes at the next Westminster election is the strategy. This requires voters to ignore the blue whale of SNP mistakes and embrace the minnow of independence. It is a long shot given that the SNP has used this bait for years without landing anything. One last cast of the rod?

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

It’s always march

It is surprising that no one has to my knowledge made any link between the seemingly incessant flag-waving and slogan-shouting marches of SNP supporters and their allies and the parallel increase in division and hatred in our society, exemplified by Scottish football fans at Hampden recently. Year after year, march after march, nothing accomplished, so the answer is another march, another gross exaggeration of marchers’ numbers, then settle down and prepare for the next.

While the marches go on, the state of our society deteriorates further and further. Our country is being split in two as we watch. Even the terms used to describe political opponents is gradually merging into Northern Irish dimensions, another region plagued by incessant marching.

Has a march ever produced a single convert to the cause or solved a single problem of any kind? I very much doubt it; in fact much the opposite is more likely. But what they have done without doubt is increase bitterness, division and rancour.

This movement to take Scotland out of the UK long ago lost any validity it may have had. The SNP have destroyed our country. It is time to return to real politics as a means of making changes.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh


Might a solution to the pathetic and childish behaviour of a section of Scottish sports fans booing their opponents anthem be to make an announcement in the stadium to the effect that, should there be a show of disrespect while it is played, the home team will forfeit the right to have their anthem played at all?

This might encourage the majority of Scottish fans to advise the boo-ers to wheesht!

S M Duthiet, Edinburgh

Anthem of hope

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Regarding Doug Morrison letter on the subject of national anthems sung at football matches (14 September), given one of the verses of the English/British national anthem speak about crushing rebellious Scots perhaps that's understandable.

It's been more of a problem in Irish rugby when the Protestant players won't even sing one of the (two) national anthems specially devised to be non-sectarian. I myself (American born of Scottish descent amongst others) feel my stomach turn hearing English rugby fans singing a song sung by enslaved people, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, which is completely inappropriate.

There is one heartening development in this minefield, however: Dafydd Iwan’s Yma yr Hyd – We’re Still Here – written at the height of the Thatcher regime. It is now the anthem sung at Welsh football games, with English speakers joining lustily in. I truly believe that this is the breakthrough needed for the Welsh independence movement as the aforesaid English-speaking South Walians reclaim their identity.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

Hope for health

Without immigration Scotland's population would have fallen, according to the 2022 census (your report,15 September).The populations of England and Wales grew more than twice as much. Is this because Scotland is a less attractive place for migrants to settle? It didn't use to be. When researching viruses in the US and with an interest in tropical ones, I asked the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) if there were job vacancies at its lab in the Gambia. No, they replied, but there was one in Glasgow at its lavishly funded virus r esearch institute. My application was successful and I felt very fortunate to be hired by an organisation famous for supporting Nobel laureates.

I look forward to the SNP plan for supporting medical research after independence, when it is probable that Scotland's scientists will stop getting support from the MRC, which is what happened when southern Ireland became independent.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Slow going

I saw a map showing all the areas of Britain considering default 20mph limits today, and one that leapt out at me appeared to be up in the area of Cape Wrath & Durness… why?There aren’t many roads at all in that area, and on most of them getting up to 20mph would be wildly optimistic. Or have the sheep found a source of amphetamines?

Ian McNicholas, Waunlwyd, Ebbw Vale

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