IT takes guts, especially knowing a backlash would occur both online and in the print media, to take a stand for minorities under threat, especially by publicly appealing for those who support transphobia within the SNP to be dealt with in a zero-tolerance approach.

While misogyny is widespread it is disappointing to see a newspaper columnist write about Kirsty Blackman, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, as if she were a silly little girl, as if someone older were more worthy of the position she holds, merely because Kevin McKenna puts Joanna Cherry on a pedestal as "the right woman" for agreeing with his middle-age male views ("Why SNP are fast becoming enemies of self-determination, The Herald, October 9). His claim that Ms Blackman published a “non-apology apology” is incorrect; she did not give the impression of an apology, because she does not have anything to apologise for. She has made it clear she stands by her position.

He has done what he has accused others of: he has put a target on Ms Blackman because she took a stand against transphobia, while he rails against "the loss of women’s sex-based rights". As a woman I would add that trans people’s rights are of no threat to mine. It might help if Mr McKenna realised that we have been living with trans and non-binary communities for a very long time, and we’ve lost none of our rights, nor will we lose any future rights. If people such as Ms Cherry could stop for a moment, and think about the damage they perpetuate daily towards others, this world would be a kinder and more peaceful place. A basic level of respect for all human beings should not be up for debate. We should always love and accept people as they are.

It is an embarrassment to see Scottish MPs pour gasoline on to the fire of transphobia and call it "standing up for women’s sex-based rights".

If we are incapable of extending the courtesy of humanity to people persecuted by a manufactured and cult-like obsession with genitalia, we have no chance at all of being a forward-thinking, free and independent country.

We need more SNP MPs to take a stand against transphobia, not fewer. Our society as a whole should always be one that chooses love over hate, peace over combat, and compassion over suffering and cruelty.

Ciara Doyle, South Ayrshire.


I’D like to raise a cheer for both Joanna Blythman’s article ("Scots university’s thought crime test for new students is only the start", The Herald, October 9) and also Catriona Stewart’s “In Lammy Land you can grow a cervix but not a brain” (The Herald, October 1). At last some journalists are speaking the truth about the trans issue and the Scottish Government’s gender identification legislation. What is the SNP Government thinking with this legislation? Why are women being silenced over this? When the voters and in particular women realise what this will really mean for them there will be a mini explosion.

As an ordinary woman (not a collection of body parts) please protect our female-only spaces. I do not want biologically male people allowed free access to them. A lot of us think knowledge of facts and common sense have gone out of the window.

Elizabeth Reid, Dunblane.


JOANNA Blythman’s criticism of the pre-matriculation modules at the University of St Andrews is inaccurate and misleading in several important respects.

The modules at St Andrews are not new. They have been in place here for several years, were campaigned for by our students, and co-designed with them.

In the current feverish rush to vent at anything that might appear vaguely woke, Ms Blythman and others have fixated on a single question which asks students to consider if acknowledging any feelings of personal guilt for unconscious bias is a good or a bad thing.

The answer to the question is, explicitly, that “no one should feel guilty” for displaying unconscious bias, but if guilt is felt, acknowledging it can be a useful starting point for tackling bias. That is a very different thing from Ms Blythman's assertion that St Andrews is “guilt-tripping” its students in the name of diversity.

The voices raised in anger against these modules are almost exclusively middle-aged and white, their university years are decades behind them, and minor considerations like the truth appear not be getting in the way of a good rant about the “latest craziness”.

Thankfully, students take a more mature and nuanced view. Only the unwise would think it a good idea to put 10,000 people from 140 countries into one square mile in north-east Fife and trust to luck that there would be a uniform understanding of community norms.

Our students recognised this. That is why they campaigned for these modules on consent, diversity, and sustainability, and sought to make them discursive and challenging.

On “posh” St Andrews, and Scottish students making up “just 28% of the student body”, we respectfully offer two facts for consideration: approximately 49% of our Scottish entrants each year have a background in care, come from a low-progression school, or live in an area of multiple deprivation.

The number of Scottish students at St Andrews, or any Scottish university for that matter, is determined entirely by the Scottish Government, not the universities themselves. We are told precisely how many Scots we may admit each year, and if we exceed that number, we are fined. That is the price of a system which must be capped to enable free tuition. Scotland’s universities are as representative of the population as the Government allows them to be.

Niall Scott, Director of Communications, University of St Andrews.


I NOTE that David Bone and Bob MacDougall (Letters, October 9) appear to agree on the significance of the First Minister hinting that the SNP only had to wait passively for Scottish independence as the No voters will have died.

The assumption that young people coming to voting age will vote Yes for independence in any future independence referendum seems at first sight to be typical SNP complacency. Many will accept without question the fickle and impetuous inexperience of youth as perhaps being behind this assumption.

However, it should be remembered that the SNP is in charge of Scottish education. The saying attributed to St Ignatius Loyola, “give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man”, seems to me something for unionists to keep in the back of their minds as indeed the rational older generation dies off.

For example, the CfE document on Experiences and Outcomes; People, Past Events and Societies for Social Studies, tells us that young people learn to develop an “ understanding of the history, heritage and culture of Scotland”.

I am certain that many people will agree that the import of the word "heritage" is in itself something which could be taken as not only emotive but in the new sensitivity of an SNP Government playing a waiting game, potentially inflammatory.

Although there is rare reference to the UK in the guidance documentation I am left feeling that our young people are at risk of being indoctrinated at an early age in school to think predominantly Scottish rather than British. Perhaps the First Minister has well thought out her subterfuge to simply wait.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


DOUGLAS Bone complains of "the almost dystopian Scotland the SNP has created" since it came to power and Bob MacDougall talks of "the shambles made of our public services" in Scotland. Both conveniently forget that Scotland has two governments, one based in Edinburgh, and one in Westminster. The Scottish Government has few levers of control while Westminster is responsible for the steering wheel, accelerator and brake.

Oddly, both place the blame for our current predicament on the Scottish Government; a bit like suggesting that the passenger who selects the radio programme is at fault when the driver crashes into the wall.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


IS Robert Frazer (Letters, October 11) kidding, or does he really believe that “ tens of thousands of ordinary people" are so disinterested in understanding what they would be voting for, or so lacking in intelligence to care, that they would be confused by having to answer such a simple question in an Indyref2 as “Should Scotland remain in the UK? Yes or No"? I doubt such people would even bother to vote at all, but perhaps they could be encouraged to lodge a protest vote if there was to be a third option of “Don’t care" or “Too difficult".

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

Letters: Leave voters owe the rest of us an apology