LAST week there was a hearing at the Court of Session about the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

This letter isn’t about that although clearly, it isn’t unrelated. It’s about an actual human being!

Channel 4 News did a piece about a young transgender woman from Brighton who took her own life. Her mum paid tribute at the inquest of her daughter’s death describing her as full of grace and beauty. Alice Litman died in May 2022 at the age of 20 after suffering from poor mental health for several years.

Her family considered this was caused in part by, at the time of her death, her spending almost three years, of a suspected five years, on an NHS waiting list for her first appointment for gender-affirming healthcare. She was discharged for treatment for anxiety and depression when she turned 18.

Alice’s dad stated: “I think she lost hope. Every time she did try and do something to forward her journey, it just seemed like there were all these huge obstacles ahead of her. I don’t think she ever really turned to any organisation that actually helped her. It was always a battle. Everything was a battle.

“We are part of that society, so all the people who are kind of, and I will probably put myself in this, before Alice, who are sort of vaguely supportive but not really very engaged, but we are part of the society that is putting them down. Killing them! Because that’s what happens when you deny people basic healthcare. When you talk about them in such disgusting ways.”

At that point, he understandably became really upset.

The family said Alice felt like society didn’t care about trans people like her. They added that their grief since she died had been exacerbated by the sometimes toxic debate around trans people and their rights.

Alice’s sister said: “I’ve shared pictures of Alice that people dissect to say: ‘Well that’s not a woman, look at that jaw bone, look at that brow’, and I think – she’s dead, like she was a real person who lived and you know that this face you are dissecting doesn’t exist anymore because we had to cremate her, and then you just come on to the internet and spew hatred at me about my sister who I loved and who died.”

Alice’s dad added: “We know we’re not going to change the world overnight but if we can humanise the debate – because most people are actually pretty decent really – if you can engage with them in the right way and stop arguing about sport and toilets and think about caring for people!”

A tearful Alice’s sister said: “I just thought Alice was going to be in my life for the rest of my life. That’s something I find really hard, imagining getting older and having a lot of life ahead of me without her. I just thought she would always be there.”

This family’s plight is gut-wrenching. Alice’s dad hit it on the nail when he said the transgender debate needs to be humanised. I have no doubt in my mind that what Alice and her family endured is a damning indictment of our society.

Alice, you were one of life’s shining lights. No amount of prejudice, ignorance and hate will ever dim that light. Rest in peace, hen!
Ivor Telfer
Dalgety Bay, Fife

I MUST say how refreshing to read Ian Stewart’s long letter regarding the modest increase of Scotland’s population and the revelation that there are more people aged 65 or over compared with the 2011 census (September 19).

READ MORE: Scottish population data will be used to create Unionist propaganda

How many of them will vote to remain in the Union come the crucial moment in our history when we finally hold another referendum for Scottish independence?

It was also good to read some reference to the significant English presence (>30%), almost all retirees, in the likes of the Isle of Skye with a mention of a similar trend in Galloway and Dumfriesshire.

I know this is a touchy subject, but it really needs to be debated in the context of how it affects our communities in a positive way, although one must consider the negative aspects of such an influx into our finely balanced communities around Scotland.

I’ve previously picked up on the same issue from random conversations with people who have travelled in other parts of Scotland, the west coast and the islands more recently mentioned by the way; and a clear observation/opinion that English enclaves have been evident in some parts of Scotland for quite a while with hardly any Scottish presence being detected at all.

I honestly don’t know how true that insinuation actually is although I must say it is concerning; I can only rely on it being a common account coming from various unrelated parties who have travelled around Scotland and have been astounded by their own observations.

As for the modest increase in the Scottish population, another previous National correspondent rightly pointed out that the biggest proportion of those migrants to Scotland come from England.

I live in Edinburgh and there is a debate gradually developing covering issues like large properties being taken over by wealthy people from England.

The recent population census should certainly provide a good insight into the percentage demographic for citizens like myself, and others, who have become part of the evolving debate covering the council’s Structure Plan for the future as the local population gradually increases together with housebuilding.
Bernie Japs

I WAS most encouraged by the letter in the Sunday National from Robert Anderson which speaks about the fact that most No supporters identify with English culture and Scots must be protected by law.

For some decades, I have written and produced many books in Scots with the idea that Scottish language and political autonomy are interdependent. In this, I also followed the ideas of the late Dr David Purves that Scots could be refreshed by a return to its more vigorous past easily available from the first-rate dictionaries which cover the whole history of this language.

This confronts the enemies of the leid and Scottish independence with a language fit for more modern applications. While I would much rather be writing in Scots the Scottish equivalent, I enclose the first part of the DECLARACIO DELS REPRESENTANTS DE CATALUNYA which I translated some time ago.


“Ti the popular o Catalunyie an ti aw the lede o the mappamound.

“Justis an the richts o the fowk baith indiveidwal an the inbiggit richts o aw the leivin lede, richts at ar steidfast, constant an no ti be renuncit, gie mense ti the historicall legalitie an the prattik an jure siclik as aye furmed the founds an the ruillin prencipils o the Republict o Catalunyie.

“The Catalane naitioun, hits tung an hits polacie hae ae thousant eir histore. Fur eirs hunner Catalunyie wes endowit an enjoysit hits ain estaiblishments that hes excerceised fu sell-guberment, wi the Generalitat as the heid manifest o the historicall richts o Catalunyie. Ruill bi Perlament, durand the tydes o leibertie, bene the stoup at thur estaiblishments hes sustened an upheized thairsells upo, bene gyed throu the Cortes Catalane, an bene kirstalleised in the Constitutiouns o Catalunyie.”
Iain WD Forde

P DAVIDSON wrote that “preserving life wherever possible is the duty of the medical profession” but there is “an obligation to relieve suffering”.

My father died in 1976. Some family members speculated whether it was the heart attack that killed him or the massive injection of painkiller.

Dad had always played the piano, in pubs, and at home; when he suffered a stroke, a couple of years before dying, he was no longer able to play. Then a series of heart attacks. Was it that final heart attack which killed him, or that massive dose of painkiller administered to him, at home, by our family doctor? I think “both” could be the answer. The heart attack was killing him anyway; the painkiller ensured he died peacefully.

I saw Dad in his coffin. He looked peaceful. What a contrast with another family member, who died in hospital. When I saw him in his coffin, his face had a painful expression. They both died, but one died in pain, the other died peacefully.
Dave Coull

THERE has been much talk recently about language, Scottish identity and culture. Language is so important to ethnicity, which is why the British colonists forced all conquered indigenous people to speak English, and Scotland was/is no different.

Of the three languages used in Scotland, English is necessary as it is historically the lingua franca of the world now. Scots, with its many rich dialects is the language of home and street I think it’s fair to say.

But to me, the most important language is Gaelic as it is unique to Scotland, though similar to Irish, Breton and Cornish Gaelic.

I firmly believe that Gaelic should be vigorously promoted in schools across Scotland from the earliest age, and continued into further education.

Now I know there will be those who will throw their hand up in mock horror, claiming that it would just confuse young minds. Not so. My grandson could speak three languages by the age of three, and now age six, is fluent in all of them, and doing well in other subjects too.

For adults like me who are not good at mastering new languages, immersive learning can be the answer. A few of my friends have been successful with online sites, it does take perseverance though. I think The National could help here also by giving a line-by-line translation in its occasional Gaelic articles, with a guide to pronunciation.

The one thing which must not be allowed to happen is that Gaelic becomes a dead language. That surely would be an admittance of defeat to all-conquering invasive English.
Richard Walthew

READERS have been weighing in on the subject of national anthems sung at football matches following the Scotland vs England football match. Given some of the verses of the English/British national anthem speak about crushing rebellious Scots, perhaps that’s understandable.

It’s been more of a problem in Irish rugby when the Protestant players won’t even sing one of the (two) national anthems specially devised to be non-sectarian. I myself (American-born of Scottish descent amongst others) feel my stomach turn hearing English rugby fans singing a song sung by enslaved people, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, which is completely inappropriate.

There is one heartening development in this minefield, however – Dafydd Iwan’s Yma o Hyd (We’re Still Here), written at the height of the Thatcher regime. It is now the anthem sung at Welsh football games with English speakers joining lustily in. I truly believe that this is the breakthrough needed for the Welsh independence movement as the aforesaid English-speaking South Walians reclaim their identity.

Cymru am byth (Wales forever).
Marjorie Ellis Thompson