I NOTE your article referring to Nicola Sturgeon "refusing to define what a woman is" ("First Minister comes under fire after refusing to define meaning of ‘woman’", The Herald, May 3).Perhaps I can help her.

I am a woman. Every cell in my body is programmed to be female. I am not "gender-neutral", I am not "cis gender", my sex was not "assigned at birth", it was determined at the point of conception and cannot be changed. Biology is biology. Facts are facts.

You also report that "ministers argue that the new law will not abolish single-sex spaces for women". I can help with that too.

For many years now all toilets in NHS hospitals in Glasgow have been re-labelled as "gender-neutral". Yes, even in a gynaecological cancer clinic. There are no "gender-neutral" people in a gynaecological cancer clinic by definition. Previously there were two toilets side by side, one male, one female. In 2019 they were both changed to "gender-neutral". This has abolished single-sex spaces for women.

Women attending this clinic need private space to gather their thoughts, have a cry, perhaps take medication or change their clothing before or after their consultation and they should not have to do this in the presence of men in a small toilet with only two cubicles. I have had to clean urine from the toilet seat, the floor and even the wash basin after a man has used the facilities in what was previously a women's toilet. When I raised this issue with the NHS in writing they refused to answer and my local female MSP and the former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman batted me back to the NHS. My polite inquiry and comments on the Patient Opinion website were removed and several further requests for reply were ignored.

Ms Sturgeon says re trans people, "they're such a tiny minority". That is exactly my point. This loss of privacy and dignity suffered by women is entirely due to lobbying by and on behalf of this tiny minority and that is before the Gender Reform Act has become law. At the moment, any man can access what were previously private spaces for women.

She has also been quoted as saying "gender recognition reform is about changing an existing process to make it less degrading, intrusive and traumatic". Indeed. So the result is that as a cancer patient and a woman my visit to an NHS hospital has already become degrading, intrusive and traumatic. Is that acceptable?

I am not a member of any political party or women's group. I am an ordinary woman who does not want to and does not have to under the Equality Act 2010, share a toilet, hospital ward or changing room with a man however he "identifies". My rights and those of all other women are already enshrined in law but they have already been taken away even though legislation allows for the provision of male, female and "gender-neutral" facilities and states that these should be provided.

Many candidates in the local elections have said that these are not local issues. They are. Toilets and changing rooms in schools, leisure and sports centres, museums, libraries and cultural venues all come under local government.

D Connor, Glasgow.

* PRESUMABLY if Nicola Sturgeon cannot define what a woman is then she also can’t define what a man is. As one of that seemingly disappearing group I am confused, but probably not as much she (?) is.

Michael Watson, Glasgow.


I CANNOT understand why some people are incensed by others wearing masks. The wearing of masks causes no harm to others. Throughout the pandemic your columnist Stuart Waiton has been very critical of all measures taken to stem the spread of the virus so it should be no surprise, perhaps, that he continues to rail against the wearing of masks ("Will some people ever stop wearing Covid face masks?", The Herald, April 27).

I simply do not recognise the description by Malcolm Parkin (Letters, May 3) of a piece of cloth soaked in condensed breath, saliva and worse. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to wear such a thing. Like most people I see I wear a disposable mask which has three layers of filtration. I have never found it in the condition described by Mr Parkin.

It is not frequently handled and has certainly not been left on a restaurant table. The mask is correctly disposed of after each brief use and where there are no facilities for hand washing I sanitise my hands with the small bottle of alcohol gel that I keep in my pocket.

If people still choose to wear a mask then please respect their wishes. It poses no physical threat to others. It is also worth noting that the Scottish Government and its medical advisors are still strongly advising people to wear masks voluntarily in busy indoor places like shops, restaurants and on public transport.

David Clark, Tarbolton.


UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps intends to make e-scooters legal on our roads, saying trials were successful. Obviously he did not consult the public or listen to road safety groups.

He ignores that many towns and cities in England stopped the e-scooter trial after numerous injuries and complaints. He ignores that ambulance call-outs in England since January 2020 include more than 840 incidents involving e-scooters – though this could in fact be more than 2,000, since only a third of ambulance trusts provided data.

He has ignored the 11 deaths and thousands of injuries to pedestrians. He ignores that the London Fire Brigade has already attended 98 fires caused by the lithium batteries on e-scooters and e-bikes. Criminals using e-scooters are running rings around the police.

The e-scooter brigade thinks that pavements and shopping malls are for their exclusive use and the police do nothing. The Scottish Government should declare that these lethal machines will never be allowed on Scottish roads and pavements.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


YOU have published letters relating to the early cuckoo (May 2 & 3). My son tells me that the swallows have arrived in Dumbarton – early, he thinks.

As for the cuckoo, the old rhyme tells us: "The cuckoo comes in April, and sings its song in May, in the months of June it changes its tune, and then it flies away."

More evidence of climate change maybe?

Duncan Miller, Lenzie.

* SORRY, Priscilla Douglas, sorry Gordon Casely. I heard my first cuckoos (plural, one calling, one responding) on April 19. Location: the North Rhins of Galloway.

Alastair Clark, Stranraer.