THERE are few women who create in Scots, and even then, unless the abuse of female Scots writers and speakers by extremist Unionists stops, their work may never see the light of day.

The first word I ever wrote in Scots was “mammy”. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I was recounting something I’d heard while working in a Glasgow care home. Then 17, I was studying English at a Scottish university, where I was exposed to canonical English literature – and certainly no Scots texts, least of all by women. A seed was nevertheless growing in my mind to tell my stories but it wasn’t until I moved to Dublin, where there’s a much stronger “own voices” literary tradition, that I found the courage to write in full Scots.

I grew up speaking Scots, but like many other speakers, I had it drummed out of me. “If you can’t speak properly, you won’t be able to spell properly!” and corrections like “It’s butTer’ not ‘but’er’”. I remember feeling bad. I was told I was doing something wrong and, as a child, I didn’t even understand what it was.

Scots writing came to me so much more naturally than writing in English ever did. It made my characters come to life and resulted in my first novel, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, which is a rare example of an entirely female-voiced Scots text by a woman. This wasn’t something I did to intentionally be different. I had a story to tell, and women’s voices were a part of it, but after it was published by Unbound in August of this year, I learned the sad reason why we rarely hear women’s stories in Scots.

READ MORE: Scots language poet Len Pennie leaves Twitter after vile abuse

Scots speakers face classism (“It’s just glorified slang!”) but for women who create in the language, there’s a degree of sexism at play too. The horrific treatment of Scots poet Len Pennie on Twitter is the best-known current example.

Despite the success of her Scots Word of the Day content, because she is a woman she has been subject to a barrage of abuse and the majority of it has been entwined with her gender, with a recent hate tirade involving sexist language resulting in one man being permanently banned from the platform. This man was one of a very vocal group of Unionists online, who have taken to harassing women who create in Scots, and just days after Pennie left Twitter, I found myself subjected to similar abuse.

DR Michael Dempster, director of the Scots Language Centre, created a #Scotstober hashtag, which encourages people to create in Scots every day of October. I wrote a Scots poem, and within hours of posting it, a man retweeted another post where I said that Scots shouldn’t be politicised, and wrote: “Who the f**k describes themselves as a poet, f**kin idiots that’s who, get a f**kin job.”

The National: Scots poet Len Pennie has been driven off social media because of abuseScots poet Len Pennie has been driven off social media because of abuse

Ironically, I didn’t describe myself as a poet but it wouldn’t have mattered if I had, or if I’d been unemployed. The problem is that my use of Scots made me a target and so too did my gender.

There were a lot of men using the hashtag too, but this person had singled me out over them. The fact that I was called an idiot too reflects the continued classism associated with Scots, which, contrary to what critics say, gives speakers transferable skills that can be useful in a variety of contexts. For example, as a journalist, my literacy in Scots and English made it a lot easier to take to writing American English.

While there are men and non-binary people who write in Scots, they have escaped the worst of the extremist Unionist abuse.

Scots author Colin Burnett told me: “I believe women creatives who produce works in Scots are in the vanguard of the Scots language movement. They seem to be the focal point of attack by those who contest the legitimacy of the Scots language.”

READ MORE: Scots poet Len Pennie hits out at 'creepy, hateful' remarks by The Majority

If you take a scroll through any extremist Unionist’s Twitter, you’ll see that it’s not just women who write Scots who are a target, but transgender women too.

One recent example is an account that lampooned Pennie’s Scots Word of the Day content. Their pinned tweet was a transphobic declaration that women should be reduced to their reproductive organs, failing to take into account the fact that some women don’t have breasts for medical reasons including mastectomies.

Dempster said of the issue: “Our literature is crying out for a diversity of voices expressing themselves in Scots. Publishing on social media is invaluable to our marginalised language community coming to voice. The intersection of additional prejudice Scots speakers face oughtn’t to be a further obstacle to their self-expression in Scots.”

The abuse of Scots-speaking and writing women isn’t about politics; it’s about classism and misogyny, and the independence debate has given some extremist Unionists a platform to express these hateful views. Since publishing Mammy, I’ve been asked why I wrote the book in Scots. The answer is simple – because that’s how the characters talk. But until the abuse of female Scots creators stops, this will be seen as something more than trying to give voice to people whose stories deserve to be told.