The Spectator

Letters | 11 October 2018

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Bathroom politics

Sir: James Kirkup’s article (‘The march of trans rights’, 6 October) discussed many of the complexities created by the issue, and rightly so. It also briefly mentioned the ‘bathroom battles’ in the United States. Such episodes illustrate the practical problems with legislating against such societal developments — new laws often do not solve but escalate the issue.

In North Carolina in 2016, legislation was introduced to prevent transgender individuals from using particular bathrooms. The policing of this law presented practical issues. It would be impossible to guard every gender-specific public bathroom in the state. Either it would require a significant increase in police numbers, or be up to the business to enact the law. This would require that business’s members of staff do it or that security guards be hired for the purpose. Major companies boycotted the state and the aforementioned bill was eventually repealed. This did not prevent similar attempts in other southern US legislatures, who seem to have a fondness for certain social legislation.

I have a feeling that if the law had been left in place it would only have been a matter of time before someone had been shot. That is usually where such disagreements end up (which is an issue of an entirely different practicality).

Craig Sergeant

Nashville, TN, USA

Why not be a boy?

Sir: I think with transgender issues being so much in the news it must be very difficult for some children who are rather young to be faced with this problem. I know that if I had had the chance at 13 to be a boy I should have been tempted and argued for it. I went to a boys’ school during the war and learnt boxing and football at seven. My brother and cousins had much nicer times at boarding school with tuck boxes and more freedom. Why not be a boy and forget period pains as well! But actually I enjoyed being a girl once school was over.

Sue Samuelson

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

Law’s dog days

Sir: As a criminal barrister, I found myself nodding in agreement with Ysenda Maxtone Graham (‘The joys of Neglexit’, 6 October). In our profession we are required to keep pace with an annual deluge of legislation, particularly in the field of sentencing, where each new Act serves principally to cancel out the effect of the Act that came before it. In order to keep up-to-date with these developments, we are encouraged each year to fork out for a fat textbook, Archbold’s Criminal Pleading (cost: £395). Thanks to Neglexit, however, and the sudden absence of new criminal legislation, for the past three years I have managed to get away with using my old dog-eared 2016 edition of Archbold. If this is anarchy, then it is of a very gentle and agreeable kind.

Charles Ward-Jackson

London SW15

Wheel meanies

Sir: Mary Wakefield’s article (‘We London cyclists really are a nasty lot’, 6 October) about cyclists giving themselves a moral licence to be unpleasant was well timed for me. I was dressed in Lycra as I read it over breakfast, about to mount my fancy lightweight bike. I decided to greet every person I met and see if her observations were justified. On my Sunday ride of about 50 miles I passed about 1,000 people. Here are my findings: cyclists will return a nod about a third of the time; people walking, about half. The more weird modern stuff you are using, the less likely you are to respond. If someone is cycling towards you in Lycra, headphones and sunglasses, even waving and shouting ‘Hello’ as they approach will get you nothing. My greetings to such people became increasingly eccentric.

Dog walkers, however, are pretty much guaranteed to give you a warm response (the only time I didn’t get a response from them was when they were in conversation with other dog walkers). Fishermen are also great for a greeting, as are plump joggers. The great exception to the rude cyclist rule is middle-aged ladies on sit-up-and-beg bikes, who almost always wave back cheerily.

Simon Galbraith


Peak achievement

Sir: Kipchoge is surely, as Roger Alton suggests, a truly remarkable athlete (Sport, 22 September). But he fails to mention what is surely the greatest sporting achievement in human history, achieved by Reinhold Messner (now an Italian Green MEP) when he climbed Everest single-handed without oxygen. It is hard to think of a greater example of courage, endurance and skill.

Paul N. Arthur

Croydon, Surrey

Spreading joy

Sir: As a practising member of the Church of England, I was interested to read (Letters, 6 October) that Justin Welby ‘found God’ before his career in industry. It is regrettable that he seems unwilling or unable to communicate the joy and enrichment of his discovery to the people in the pews. Or more importantly, perhaps, to those not yet in our pews.

Jane Moth

Snettisham, Norfolk

Glad to be vegan

Sir: James Delingpole trots out the usual criticisms of veganism (8 September). I have been vegetarian since the 1980s and vegan for about ten years. The food I eat is gorgeous and sexy. It took a few months to develop new tastes, but was well worth the effort. I can take satisfaction that the food is healthier for me, causes no animals to be tortured and has far less negative impact upon the environment. Given the warnings about climate change, to continue to eat meat and dairy is grossly irresponsible.

Keith O’Neill

Shrewsbury, Shropshire