Scotsman Letters: Is it really a case of a trans is a man for a’ that?

Isla Bryson, 31, formerly known as Adam Graham, from Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, is at the heart of the Scottish Government's U-turn on trans prisoners (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)Isla Bryson, 31, formerly known as Adam Graham, from Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, is at the heart of the Scottish Government's U-turn on trans prisoners (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
Isla Bryson, 31, formerly known as Adam Graham, from Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, is at the heart of the Scottish Government's U-turn on trans prisoners (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
Until a few days ago a trans woman was a woman full stop. Anyone who thought differently was a transphobe, according to the First Minister. Now a trans woman with “a history of violence” facing prison will be treated as a man and sent to a male jail. In other words, only some trans women are women, or some trans women are men sometimes.

Either the First Minister and her government are now transphobes, or maybe, just maybe, they have had to face the reality that there are important contexts in which an individual cannot change his or her sex at will. This makes a nonsense of the Gender Recognition Reform legislation, and a responsible government would now recall it for an urgent rethink.

Linda Holt, Pittenweem, Fife

So which is it?

The Scottish Government has been forced to admit that Isla Bryson and Tiffany Scott represent a danger to women and cannot safely be sent to women’s prison. Yet your front page yesterday quotes Justice Secretary Keith Brown saying: “we must not allow any suggestion... that trans women pose an inherent threat to women. Predatory men are the risk to women”

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Does it not logically follow that Mr Brown must therefore be saying that Isla Bryson and Tiffany Scott are men, despite declaring themselves to be women? Where does this leave the Scottish Government’s rule that anyone who declares themselves to be a woman is a woman?

Anne Crocker, Shoreham, Kent

Trans games?

I have to confess that ever since a majority in our country chose to depart from the physical definition of male and female and the differences mentally and spiritually, I have watched with apprehension as the debate has rapidly accelerated into conflict and confusion. The debate in respect of the prison population and participation in sporting events might, and indeed, should, have been foreseen.

We have no real grounds for comprehensively defining “transgender” as it is largely a question of individual perception and as such is hard to define clearly in legal terms. If it is, rightly, seen as wrong to debar an individual from participation in an event on the grounds of physical differences – hence the welcome addition of the Invictus Games and the Paralympics – then it is very difficult (though I can see the argument for necessity) to debar someone, who has been sexually defined and legally accepted as such, from participation.

I suspect there would be a hue and cry if we barred certain people from participation because they were too big or too clever. If society really wants to persist in the foolhardiness of trying to legalise every minority situation as though it was the universal normal, I’m afraid the slippery slope is doomed to become even steeper and I will be urging my grandchildren to take up a legal profession, because human rights lawyers will be the only winners.

James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

Alien nation

Making the trans issue a nationalist shibboleth will surely rank as the worst decision the FM has ever made. It will cost her electorally and may even ensure that her obsession with breaking up the UK will have to be dropped for at least a generation, if not permanently. She has alienated vast numbers of female voters, who surely now see what others have been saying for a very long time. Manufactured and unsubstantiated grievances are no way to run even a devolved country.

This decision to alienate so many surely signals the beginning of the end.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Sex is immutable

It is bad enough that Scottish official statistics will henceforth be distorted by the failure of the botched census in 2022. To add to that, we have the distortion of statistics by the confusion between sex and gender. How can anyone trust figures relating to male/female mortality, criminality, patterns of health and disease, and much more, if people are allowed to choose and change their gender?

This is an issue not only for historians but also for service planners in various areas, for example community medicine. Above all, altering a birth certificate retrospectively is historical vandalism.

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Sex is biologically determined and immutable. Pretending that biological males who choose to present as female require screening for conditions such as cervical cancer is not only a waste of our money but is also nonsensical.

Yet official Scotland has been captured by the Stonewall organisation and pays homage to it by obeying its prescriptions.

These amount to what writer Alex Massie has rightly called “gender woo-woo”. Gender, outside the grammar books, is a subjective designation. A mature secular society needs to be governed by scientific fact rather than belief.

By all means allow people to live the life they want to, calling themselves what they choose and wearing what they prefer. We should all treat each other with respect and allow each other equal dignity.

But it is time that the Equality Act was altered to be based on the fact of biological sex, not on what is a lifestyle choice.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

The music died

For decades, one of the joys of Edinburgh was the twice weekly lunchtime concerts put on by Edinburgh University Music School. Free and open to the public, these concerts by visiting musicians were of a high quality and it was also a pleasure to see the students making music – some of them have gone on to be international stars.

It is therefore very sad that the University has failed to restore these concerts after the pandemic. The University has a commitment to the community and these concerts were part of that commitment.

Hugh Kerr, Edinburgh

New measures

Happiness surveys might offer a handy contrast to GDP but they clearly don’t tell the whole story about the things that matter to us (“Economics of happiness suggests the pursuit of money might be a big mistake”, John McLaren, Perspective, 26 January).

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For example, while Northern Ireland scores well on self-reported levels of happiness, it has the highest suicide rate in the UK. And neither GDP nor the ONS survey work McLaren outlines measure the impact that we’re having on the environment, or the world we’re leaving for future generations.

That’s why we need to develop new measures of collective success and progress that recognise that growth must be balanced with other social, environmental, and democratic priorities.

Happiness surveys alone just aren’t enough.

Sarah Davidson, Carnegie UK, Dunfermline

Winds of change

Ian Moir complains that wind is only supplying 6 per cent of our electricity at the present time (Letters, January 30). But farms are supplying 0 per cent of our wheat and vineyards 0 per cent of our grapes but we are still eating and drinking if we can afford it. What is the answer? Storage. Wheat is stored in silos in Ukraine, grapes are turned into wine and stored in cellars. We have to wait until autumn for more wheat and grapes but only until tomorrow for more wind, and plenty of it!

Wind is our most reliable energy source. It has been blowing since biblical times and will get stronger with global warming. Putin can't stop the wind or put the price up. A single enemy or terrorist bomb, or even jellyfish, can take out a whole power station, but the distributed nature of a wind farm makes it much more resilient.

Above all wind electricity is cheap – 4p/kWhr farm gate price for the latest onshore and offshore farms, guaranteed for 15 years. Scientists are working hard on storage the world over. The latest I read involves iron air batteries and winding bags of sand up and down old coal shafts.

So the government should continue to invest as much as possible in wind.

George Shering, Newport-on-Tay, Fife

Charged up

Congratulations to Highland Council for being honest about the new cost of charging electric vehicles in their area.Of course, the new and horrifying increases, while being announced by Highland Council, will obviously hold true for all council areas, simply because those increases are dependent upon the cost of electricity, which has risen by 160 per cent since 2020.Fast Charging, which was 30p per Kilowatt Hour, is now to be 70p – an increase of 133 per cent.Slower Charging, which once cost 20p per Kilowatt Hour, will now cost 35p – an increase of 75 per cent.Come back fossil-fuels, all is forgiven!

Archibald A Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife

No meat in idea

Thanks to Stephen Jardine for an extremely well written and scathing article (“The Plant Based Treaty won't make us all vegan", 28 January). He quite rightly chastises Edinburgh City Council for virtue signalling by seeking to ban meat from the menus in schools, hospitals and nursing homes despite other councils who tried to force feed the vegan lifestyle being literally left with egg on their faces and “significant food waste”.

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Despite the number of vegans in the UK being around two to three per cent of the population, the PETA foundation has been writing to every newspaper and magazine in the land, advising us to "Go vegan in 2023”.

If PETA, Edinburgh City Council and others think that a few more vegans will save the planet, here is a reality check. There are 1.5 billion cattle, 1bn sheep and 1bn pigs in the world. Edinburgh City Council and PETA should go to the largest meat producers India, Brazil, China, US and Argentina, set up vegan stalls and then publish their conversion successes.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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