READER Alasdair HB Fyfe (Letters, December 27) shares his view that the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, recently passed by the Scottish Parliament, denies human biology. He is indeed raising an important point, because the intentional conflation of sex and gender has muddied the discourse during the preparation and passage of the bill.

Proof of this intent was provided by Green MSP Maggie Chapman, who claimed in her closing remarks that "sex is not, as some would like to imagine, binary and immutable". This is not only factually wrong, it is a gross insult to biological science itself. A biological fact, and that is what the term "sex" describes, is nothing to be imagined at one's fancy. Even from the mangled remains of roadkill you can tell the sex of the unfortunate creature by looking at the genes of its body cells: either XX for female or XY for male. Our biological sex is literally in our bones. It's binary and it's immutable.

If Ms Chapman doesn't want to listen to science, she might be willing to listen to the comedian Jordan Gray, who is transgender and has been quoted to say in his show that "You cannot change your sex ... sex is genetic information".

If she and other MSPs had accepted this fundamental truth and had abstained from confusing sex and gender, a lot of the division and toxicity that has characterised the debate could have been prevented.
Regina Erich, Stonehaven

• WITH reference to Allan Sutherland's letter (December 28), I haven't noticed "widespread public disapproval" in regard to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Most folk seem content to allow people to decide their own best interests, not the press, the media and politicians.
Allan McDougall, Neilston

Tories' threat to free speech

ADAM Tomkins ("2023 will be the year you will have to fight for free speech", The Herald, December 28) claims that while we should all be concerned about the threats to free speech, "in the main the threat to free speech in modern Britain is not coming from the Government". This is an assertion that can, and should, be challenged.

Whatever we think about the recent changes to gender recognition it is the case that the reforms followed a lengthy and heated debate in a democratically-elected parliament. If people are unhappy with the decision, they are free to find out how their MSP voted on the issue and to give their support to other candidates in subsequent elections.

Contrast this with the events of September 2021 when Boris Johnson asked the late Queen to prorogue Parliament. It is difficult to imagine a more serious attack on free speech than an attempt to silence the "Mother of Parliaments", and one coming not from noisy protestors but from within the heart of government.

Setting aside 12 years of austerity (state-organised cruelty) it is suggested that the governments of David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have really been Corbynism in disguise, the left having won the debate on economic policy. I am sure the ever-increasing numbers of people living in poverty and attending food banks will be surprised to learn that. The ever-increasing numbers of billionaires in this country are likely to be surprised too.
Brian Harvey, Hamilton

Project Fear Mark II is here

SO the Gender Recognition Reform Bill has been passed after a degree of skullduggery and procrastination by those opposed to it. This then made the process much longer than it should have been.

Like many others, I do not know enough about the subject to offer an opinion. However, I suspect that a few who do speak on the subject have a similar level of knowledge.

The bill was passed by a very healthy 2-1 majority of cross-party MSPs. Democracy in action. Everything OK so far.

Then, I read with interest than an English-headquartered broadsheet decided to conduct a poll on the subject which found that a majority of Scots polled were against the bill. This article was given prominent front page news.

The same newspaper gave scant, if any, regard to an unprecedented seven out of seven polls after the Court of Session judgement each of which showed a clear majority of Scots in favour of independence.

Propaganda at work. It’s a silent, insidious thing which we can easily become inured to.

Then, we read that the Westminster Government is considering using its power to veto the bill. This would be unprecedented. Indeed, even if it does not do this, by feeding such information to the media the mere flexing of its muscles in this way confirms that our parliament is not truly devolved and is in fact a toothless tiger.

Quite frankly, I would have thought that if the electorate was unhappy, then they simply would not re-elect those MSPs who voted in favour of the bill. That would be true democracy at work.

Project Fear Mark II is already in overdrive and the hypocrisy of it all stinks.
Stewart Falconer, Alyth

• ROBERT IG Scott (Letters, December 28) asks: "How can the nationalists justify the radical changes to Scotland's economy, and its drastic effect on the lives of future generations of Scots which would be inevitable with current SNP policies?"

He paints a bleak future post-independence which has all the hallmarks of Project Fear. Perhaps part of the answer, as others have suggested, can be found by comparing Scotland to other similar states.

He also cites 315 years of history to negate the idea of an independent Scotland but notes there have been "many inevitable changes occurring over that period to [the UK's] structure, economy and international influence". Precisely, devolution being one, Brexit another and, significantly, an increase in public support for independence over the past 60 years.

Finally, "current SNP policies" and those of a future independent Scottish government are likely to be significantly different. But, for me, the real quandary is whether independent Scotland would become the fairer kind of society that I aspire to live in. I think we need a proper debate about that.
David Bruce, Troon

A terrible deal on offer

WHY is it is often suggested that the UK Government needs to make a positive case for Scotland remaining in the UK? A car dealer hoping to sell us a new model does not insist on us having a detailed analysis of the familiarity, advantages, flaws, running costs and service history for our old family car. They assume that having driven and maintained it for many years we are well aware of these factors, and it is up to them to convince us that they can offer us a suitable alternative deal.

Scots live in the UK, and already know the many advantages, opportunities, and several flaws that this brings. We know the service history, the historical running costs (taxes), and that there are several things needing to be fixed while maintenance costs are escalating. However, if the SNP dealership wants to sell us a new model, it will need to advertise a deal good enough to lure us into the Indyref showroom.

As it stands, its Special New Year Sale offer would look something like this:

Trade in your old UK Union for a new SNP Indy – purchase price and trade-in value of your old model to be negotiated with Westminster – but not until after you have signed the agreement.

Road Tax on your Indy will no longer paid to UK. New tax and running costs are unknown – but don't worry, the finance package will allow you to borrow unlimited amounts at an unknown interest rate to be repaid in a currency yet to be decided. Your Barnett formula insurance and roadside assistance policy will end immediately – possibly replaced by an EU policy – but don't hold your breath, as it will take years, if ever, and would mean that after all that effort, your so-called Indy will once again be a Union subject to EU policy rules.

If this is the best deal on offer it shouldn't take a de facto family referendum to decide to stick with the trusty Union and put some money and effort into repairs and maintenance.
Mark Openshaw, Aberdeen

Deadly argument

I AM curious as to why Peter Dryburgh (Letters, December 27) thinks it necessary for the SPUC to inform pupils that there is a 20% rate of miscarriage, or natural abortion. There is a 100% rate of death for human beings, but that is not an argument for agents of the state or private individuals ending anyone’s life.
Charlie Friel, Clydebank

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