REDUCED to its essence, James Morton’s argument is that wanting any recognition ever in law, policy or data gathering of a person’s sex as recorded on their birth certificate is the equivalent of supporting Section 28 ("We must fight against the rolling back of trans rights", The Herald, September 27. This hyperbole needs challenging.

Mr Morton asserts that asking people to say what is on their birth certificate in the census is the same as believing that public services should never take any account of what he calls “lived sex”, a term meaning a person has made social changes, but not necessarily any physical ones. This is not what we and others are saying. The argument is not that service providers in their day-to-day interactions should ignore that a person has a transgender identity. It is that there are some contexts where their sex also stills matters.

As a group of academics with substantial expertise in collecting and working with population-level data recently told MSPs, sex as observed and recorded at birth remains relevant to the understanding of society, not least on issues of inequality. It can matter too when services are planned. And crucially sometimes it can quite reasonably matter to other people. This is why the Equality Act allows that some services and roles, such as intimate examinations and rape counselling, can be provided to and by people based on their sex at birth. The Scottish Trans Alliance (STA), which Mr Morton leads, has campaigned in the past to have this protection removed and still argues that it should only be used in extreme circumstances. We find that shocking, but it is the logical extension of accepting the argument he makes.

Mr Morton mentions the large group of academics who have written to the Scottish Parliament to support the STA position on the census. Further investigation reveals that they are mainly drawn from backgrounds with no relevant expertise at all. Only a handful appear to be in roles where they ever work with such data. The majority are in fields such as English literature, theatre studies, chemistry or physics: fine pursuits, but not a source of relevant academic expertise here, and they should not be presented as providing that.

Unlike the Scottish Trans Alliance, we can see that a person's physical sex and their transgender identity may both matter, depending on the context. We want a decent conversation about how to balance everyone's needs, wants and rights. We support asking a separate question about transgender identity in the census. It is the STA which is taking the uncompromising position here. It is time they dialled down rhetoric and admitted that.

Trina Budge, Forwomen.Scot, Wick.

Toilet trouble

CATRIONA Stewart's skilfully crafted piece describing her experience in what purported to be "unisex toilets" ("Men will need to step up if inclusivity is to be the norm", She Herald, September 27) says so much about life in our country today and as a social commentary makes compelling reading, being in a perverse way entertaining but also deeply worrying. There is, however, a medical dimension to the dilemma of whether any variant of unisex toilets is justified on medical grounds.

There are a variety of urological conditions, including those which can be loosely categorised under the umbrella label "disorders of bladder function", for which it is essential to have complete privacy, and importantly the time required in a toilet cubicle. While the historic arrangement of separate toilets for men and women is not ideal, particularly in regard to the number of cubicles provided in women's toilets, any attempt to provide a common area introduces additional problems for the many individuals of all ages who have to contend with urological conditions on a daily basis. While decisions regarding the implementation of unisex toilets appear to be required in this politically correct world which for many of my generation have bewilderment and contempt, with this issue they appear to be made by those too young to understand or too heartless to care.

John Sinclair, Retired consultant urological surgeon, Milngavie.