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Nicola Sturgeon is revealing an appalling naivety over trans rights

The Guardian logo The Guardian 04/12/2022
Photograph: Ken Jack/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Ken Jack/Getty Images

Sonia Sodha is right to expose the ludicrous naivety at the heart of Nicola Sturgeon’s reforms to the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland (“Sturgeon’s plans to reform gender law could leave Tories as the champions of women’s rights”, Comment).

As a transsexual, I am astonished and appalled that a bill purporting to extend trans rights compromises the rights of women and undermines the safeguarding of children. When distinguishing men from women, it is neither progressive nor practical to replace biological sex with self-identified feelings of gender – whatever gender might mean.

The people often forgotten, not least by those banging the drum for “trans rights”, are transsexuals. Legislation originally passed to protect people who had undergone a meaningful transition from harassment and discrimination may be extended to a much wider group, with no checks and balances against abuse. Few men might claim to be women to breach the boundaries that women have worked so hard to establish, but those that will choose to self-identify their way in are precisely the men that women need to worry about.

Sturgeon’s SNP and her Scottish Green collaborators are destroying the trust and confidence that transsexuals used to take for granted. This is a bad bill that must be opposed.

Debbie Hayton

Bristol

The Tories’ real legacy

Isabel Hardman erroneously concludes that the Tory party’s legacy is “pretty thin” (“What is the Tory party’s legacy after so many years in power?…” Comment). This is because she has searched for positive outcomes.

If she had taken a more holistic view of the last 12 years of Tory rule, she would have concluded that their legacy is beyond obese. The Tories have destroyed the nation’s economy, trading relationships, international reputation, healthcare provision, law enforcement capacity, democratic norms and any concept of ministerial accountability. They have allowed corruption and cronyism to blossom, denigrated human rights, devalued the pound by around 20%, demonised asylum, imposed the highest tax burden since 1945 and presided over the deaths of 200,000 people in a Covid response that coincided with the worst economic performance in the G7. Delivering this in little over a decade is remarkable. Dismissing the Tories’ legacy as “thin” is absurd; the population must never forget the achievements of this generation of Conservatives.

Geoff Johnstone

Malvern, Worcestershire

The freedoms lost to Brexit

Robert Ford writes about the new majority view of immigration as economically and culturally beneficial and suggests this should present opportunities for progressive politicians to make the case for open migration (“The public has wised up to the benefits of immigration. It’s about time politicians did too”, Comment).

However, this is only one side of the story. What about the rights of British people to live, visit for longer periods than three months, love, work or retire in other countries? As EU members, we had these reciprocal rights for 27 countries. These have all been taken away, drastically reducing our life choices.

It seems the main result of ending freedom of movement has been to restrict our own freedoms, make our lives narrower and make us even more insular. When are our leaders going to start trying to gain for us some of the freedoms we have lost, through reciprocal agreements with other countries?

Sarah Axford

Perth

Strikers pay too a high price

Anyone who has been on strike expects to lose pay for the time they are on strike. However, you report that some universities are threatening to go well beyond that (“Universities condemned over threat to dock all pay of striking staff”, News) .

If they do, the University and College Union should be supporting aggrieved members in their hundreds to take legal action for what is the equivalent of theft. Perhaps the prospect of defending a huge number of cases might bring these rogue employers to their senses.

Dave Pollard

Leicester

Making slavery reparations

I am reminded of the painful history of slavery on regular trips from Sussex to Devon (“Barbados wants Tory MP to pay damages for family’s role in slavery”, News). In Dorset, I am forced to drive around two sides of Charborough Park, the UK home of the Erle/Drax lineage, the family that virtually invented mass slavery and with their own ships abducted, transported and mistreated African citizens.

The Grade I-listed house should be opened to the public and devoted to Afrocentric activity to mirror that asked for at Drax Hall in Barbados. Though Richard Drax MP is in discussion with the Barbados government, he should just give up ownership of both properties for the reparations his family owe the thousands of slaves whose lives were destroyed and for their descendants who continue to suffer the most horrific family memories.

Richard Coleman

Hove

Forget diversity at our peril

Full marks to Robin McKie for highlighting the greater emphasis put on global warming by most politicians and scientists than world biodiversity crisis (“Biodiversity is as crucial as climate. But where’s the action?”, Focus).

We’re in danger of being blinded to the reality that much of the environmental damage we’re doing relates only peripherally, and often not at all, to global warming: think over-fishing of our seas, lakes and rivers, over-extraction of water from the latter and direct species loss due to human territorial expansion for housing, infrastructure and agriculture etc. As the Scottish-American conservationist John Muir and friends were saying in the 19th century, and many others have said since, the environment and other species are not our playthings, they have their own intrinsic value and right to exist.

Dr Peter Perry

Penzance

Glad to be Welsh

As a Scot married to a Welshman and living in England, Martin Johnes’s article (“Wales want to beat England to qualify, not to prove a point…” Comment), struck a chord. We have lived in England for over 40 years and the majority of our friends are English. We love the Six Nations and the abuse we give and receive during the England matches. We don’t hate our English friends and neighbours or we wouldn’t have stayed so long. What we fiercely resent is the BBC, and not only London media, reporting to a British public as if we were all English.

Roxan Stephens

Witcham, Cambridgeshire

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