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As reported in this paper last week, the most important stage yet has been reached in a legal battle that deserves following. “This is an important case. It is a difficult case. I have got to the stage of understanding what the question is, but I certainly don’t have the answer,” Lady Wise said at the end of two days of court arguments.

At its heart is how we should decide whether a person’s appointment would contribute to the Scottish government’s goal of ensuring that at least half of all public board members in Scotland are women. In 2018, MSPs agreed that the basis for deciding this should be whether a person is “living as a woman”, in the words of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act, rather than their biological sex, or whether they have formally changed their legal sex using a gender recognition certificate. What it meant for someone born male to “live as a woman” was not defined.

Guidance since issued by the government makes clear that no minimum period or particular degree of physical transition can be required, nor evidence requested. Meanwhile, the same law excludes some female people, in essence those who are deemed no longer to live as women, from benefitting from its positive discrimination measures.

For Women Scotland (FWS), the campaign group, has challenged whether the Scottish parliament had the powers to do this. The court arguments drew out a larger question: who does the Scottish government think should count as a woman, when, and why?

Ruth Crawford, QC, acting for the government, argued that people born male but now living as women were seen by the government to be “broadly similar” to people born female, in terms of how past and present discrimination affected their lives. The Scottish government believes they should be treated the same unless “prohibited by law”.

For FWS, Aidan O’Neill, QC, challenged the assumption that a man who starts to live as a woman experiences “the same disadvantage as women, to the same degree”. Born women, he argued, “are different in terms of social issues, economically and in terms of representation”.

Lady Wise’s decision — expected some time in April — is bound to be controversial, whichever way it goes.