Readers' Letters: Don't use 'feminist' label to legitimise transphobia

I have been a feminist for decades. I still am one. But I am tired of people using this label – using me and my gender – in order to legitimise their transphobia.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry's position on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is transphobic, reckons reader (Picture: Russell Cheyne/WPA Pool/Getty Images)SNP MP Joanna Cherry's position on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is transphobic, reckons reader (Picture: Russell Cheyne/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
SNP MP Joanna Cherry's position on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is transphobic, reckons reader (Picture: Russell Cheyne/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

As we ramp up towards Edinburgh Pride this coming month, what should be a time of hope and enthusiasm is instead a time of increasing fear for LGBTQ+ people. And while much of the threat is coming from the usual suspects, people like Joanna Cherry are joining in this pile-on, and calling it feminism. Claiming that they are protecting me, as a woman. Claiming that they speak for me.

But they do not speak for me. Edinburgh might be the epicentre of this effort to launder transphobia into an acceptable faux-feminist movement, but I believe there are more of us here who just aren’t that interested in hating our friends and neighbours.

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For Pride this month, let’s say that out loud. Let’s stop being spoken over in the name of somebody else’s prejudice. Let’s speak up for ourselves.

Erica Brooks, Edinburgh

If you prefer

Now that the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill has been stalled on its way to the statute book, I hope our politicians are giving some thought to how the bill can be rewritten to make it compliant with UK law. So far all I have heard is complaining that the UK Government intervened.

The Equality Act is UK-wide legislation. It is not a devolved area. The new bill conflicts with the Equality Act and therefore the UK Government was acting within its powers when it applied the brakes to the bill becoming law. The Equality Act contains special provisions to defend women’s spaces such as women’s prisons. The bill would make it easier for males who claim to self-identify as women to access those women’s spaces. That is why women’s groups have been so vocal in their opposition to the bill .

The basic problem is that in this issue there are two sets of conflicting rights – the right of trans people to a procedure for changing their recognised gender and the right of women to have protected spaces which keep out abusive males. It is a gross misrepresentation of the problem to treat it as an issue of trans people’s rights only. Our politicians should try to accommodate the rights of both sides – trans people and women.

One measure which could possibly help would be to change the wording of birth certificates. The new wording would create two categories: Biological Sex and Preferred Gender. Biological Sex would be determined at birth as a matter of Male or Female. Preferred Gender would be a self-identification and could include designations like Masculine or Feminine or Both or Neither. That designation could be changed by the holder. Such a rewording of the birth certificate would allow institutions like women's prisons and women's sports authorities to declare that Biological Sex is a defining criterion for admission. By contrast, political parties and commercial businesses might want to use Preferred Gender as their basis when selecting candidates or personnel.

There has been a lot of unnecessarily angry confrontation over this issue. Much of it stems from a failure to distinguish biological sex from preferred gender. Both categories are valid and serve different functions in society.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Be a lion

This generation of youngsters has escaped being brought up with the “Scottish cringe” . The young in Scotland are self-confident enough to want to govern their own country while older folk are fearful to take what seems to them a step into the unknown. I was brought up to think English schools were better, that English University degrees left you cleverer and London was the best place to work in. It took meeting and working with English graduates to realise that this was not necessarily so. The brighter the person and the harder they worked, the more qualified they became wherever they came from.

Brexit will damage Scotland irreparably if we allow it to go on. Scotland has always been a trading nation, an innovative nation, a nation that gets along with other nations. None of that is possible with Brexit in charge.

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It is time for the older generation in Scotland to put aside their Scottish cringe and vote to allow young Scots the independence to govern their own country and make Scotland great again. For once don’t be a lemming, be a Scottish Lion.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

Bleak outlook

Wherever one looks one sees UK government regulators apparently failing or out of control. At the top of the tree is the Bank of England with its toxic combination of printing money – so called quantitative easing – while artificially holding down interest rates. The effect of low interest rates was appeased by the numerous desperate pension funds, unable to meet their liabilities, buying Liability Driven Investments (LDIs). These gambled on low interest rates remaining in place indefinitely. The companies issuing these LDIs, such as Legal and General, made huge profits. Even the Bank of England’s own pension fund bought into this unacceptable risk taking, losing £1 billion in the process.

Combined with this disastrous lack of government regulatory control of the financial industry is the lack of regulatory control of the energy industries, with many companies going bust. Capping energy bills of the remaining companies hardly touched the surface of the true distortions visible in the extraordinarily high standing charges – levied to pay for these previous losses – being imposed on consumers.

All UK consumers are left with huge and unsustainable bills, yet no action against these standing charges is likely from the apparently toothless government regulators complicit in levying them. This continuing lack of government regulation and control of the financial and energy markets has created the perfect storm. A truly nightmare financial scenario is now faced by the ordinary British consumer. Rampant inflation abounds. Unless there is fundamental regulatory reform, including changes in management and culture, the economic outlook will indeed remain bleak.

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh

Waste not

I read that the Hogwarts Express trip over the Glenfinnan viaduct has, up to very recently, dumped the human waste of up to 1,400 passengers a day on to the track, creating a literal stink and no doubt not just a few nasty sights and health hazards. Collection tanks have now been installed and the immediate problem has been shifted away. But to where? Why is it waste anyway? Visitors to rural China can still see “honey carts” removing “night soil” each morning to the paddy fields beneficially, completing a very natural cycle.

Farmers muck out the byres and spread the contents onto fields, thus completing another natural cycle. So why are we paying vast sums to dispose of human waste when modern science and industry is quite capable of designing systems that will convert an apparent liability into a considerable asset? Currently, artificial fertilisers have to be imported at great expense only for much of their value to be wasted through leeching into and polluting our aquifers, waterways and reservoirs.

An experiment that we all can try at home is to collect and measure our own daily so-called wastes. Multiply that by 365 days in the year and then by 70 million, which is where the UK population is rapidly heading, and the full potential of this “waste” can be visualised.

Obviously because of our bad habits this useful product will requi re to be made safe and usable, but that isn’t rocket science. Also, it is a much saner investment than expensive sewage plants and polluting the seas that surround us.

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I believe the Findhorn Community has had such a system up and running for decades. Do Scottish Water and Scottish Greens know about this? It makes far better sense than the latter’s glass recycling bouroch.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Goal mouth

When are football managers, backroom staff and players, going to live up to being professional and positiv e role models?

Hearts manager Steven Naismith, on Saturday was so childish in his prank towards Lee Johnson and his reaction was rather over the top, as was the back room staff/players who “joined in” with flying fists and acrimony.

Sports like football are about passion, skill and team wor k, but also about being professional and positive role models to the upcoming generations. The Board of Directors must ensure standards are maintained, not just for the team’s reputation but that of professional football in Scotland.

Losing a month’s salary would be a good sanction for Saturday’s post match trouble.

Michael G Cockburn, Edinburgh

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