WE need to talk about hijacks. Hijacking of government policy by noisy activist groups. Hijacking of basic science. Hijacking of the English language. Hijacking of parental rights. Hijacking of groups set up to protect one set of rights infiltrated and supplanted by those promoting a quite separate agenda.

Fasten your seat belts, we need to talk about gender wars.

This week new guidance was published by the Education Secretary for ­Scotland’s schools. It covers a great amount of ground but states unequivocally that: “This ­guidance aims to help school staff in ­Scotland’s education authority, grant-aided and independent schools to provide transgender young people with the best ­possible educational experiences.”

This is the latest manifestation of a raft of initiatives with trans rights front and centre. Nobody would gainsay the need to protect trans people, young and old, from bigotry, prejudice and discrimination.

READ MORE: No reason trans rights and women's rights can't coexist in big-hearted Scotland

Yet I’m pushed to recall any similarly ­robust and highly detailed attention given to lesbian and gay young people who have a long history of problems during their school years and beyond. Though I’m old enough to remember when a Scottish Government went into bat against the homophobic ­nature of Section 28/2a.

According to a rather more recent ­Scottish Government paper on gender equality in the board room “There are no hard estimates of the size of the trans population. However, it seems unlikely that trans people represent more than 1% of the population.”

So it is not transphobic but perfectly reasonable to inquire why the legitimate need for protection of 1% of the ­population seems to trump just about every other ­minority requirement, not to mention the rights of the 50% plus who are female.

But wait just a wee minute. What is ­female? You might think, because ­basic grade biology teaches you so, that a ­female is someone born a woman. Get up to speed, won’t you? According to the trans ­activists – not to be confused at all with actual transexual people – a female is ­apparently now a person who identifies as such ­whether or not they have had medical intervention.

Now I have no problem with gender as a spectrum – all of us vary in where we are on a continuum from fluffy and ­feminine to chest-thumping ­masculinity. Nor any difficulty with people ­identifying with whatever gender makes them feel most comfortable. But gender and sex are not interchangeable terms, which hasn’t stopped a whole raft of institutions ­bending the knee to the activist police.

I offer the BBC’s latest definition of ­homosexuality: “Homosexual means ­people of either her sex who are attracted to people of their own ‘gender’.” No, they are people who are attracted to people of their own sex. Thus the successful push for “same-sex” marriage.

It happens, I am a straight woman. (Woman. Noun: adult female person.) Yet I have no difficulty in ­understanding why so many of the lesbian and gay ­community have fallen out with ­Stonewall, the organisation which once pioneered the fight for their rights.

A high-profile Stonewall founder helped set up the LGB Alliance (note the ­missing T) a couple of years back because they thought the organisation had mislaid its original mission in favour of a vocal trans lobby.

Many people from that latter group have persuaded themselves that this is merely a battle between enlightened progressives (them) and bigoted dinosaurs (me and folks like me). It’s not, you know. It’s an attempt to inject some much needed common sense into a movement which is so up itself it can’t locate any daylight so it resorts to kneejerk abuse.

Thus the daily assault on the language, most especially in health matters. “Chest feeding” instead of “breast” and “people with cervixes” instead of women. You can cheerfully sign up to “trans rights are ­human rights” without the corollary ­being: but women’s rights are way less ­important than trans rights.

READ MORE: Scottish Government releases new guidance for schools to support trans pupils

A subsidiary battleground is ­women’s loos. Choose the loo you feel ­appropriate? One cultural institution in Scotland “solved” this cultural dilemma by ­introducing half a dozen unisex ­toilets. Naturally, since space was limited, they cut down the women only options. ­Despite the fact that woman require ­different toilet arrangements to urinals. Biological fact. And thus their queues for loos are longer.

Another war zone is currently organisations set up to deal with domestic and ­other abuse. The current head of ­Edinburgh Rape Crisis centre is ­embroiled in a row over a podcast in which she suggested that rape victims who had ­“unacceptable” ­beliefs need to be challenged and ­educated about transgender rights.

(This may not be unconnected with the fact that she herself is transgender and that the advert for a new chief operating officer states that applications from trans women would be especially welcome.)

This is seriously daft. A rape victim is in urgent need of many things. Political re-education is assuredly not one of them. There are also a number of very unhappy folks at various Women’s Aid organisations now fretting that their funding may be contingent on them accepting trans women still sporting male genitalia. They will give them help and support but can’t admit them, they say. Is that so very ­difficult to understand?

We have just come to the end of an Olympic Games where a heated debate ensued over the inclusion of a male born transexual weightlifter. Once again ­anyone with doubts about her eligibility was trashed, as was tennis star Marina Navratilova when she asserted that male born players had an in-built advantage.

In her book “Trans”, the author Helen Joyce puts it this way: “The average adult man has 41% more non-fat body mass, 50% more muscle mass in his legs and 75% more in his arms. His legs are 65% stronger and his upper body is 90% stronger. The fastest time ever run by Allyson Felix, the women’s 400 metre Olympics champion, is beaten more than 15,000 times each year by men and boys. This athletic advantage will be conferred to a post-pubertal transwoman, even if she takes testosterone suppressors.”

Yet the most dispiriting part of all this – and there’s a bit of a queue here – is that neither the politicians nor the activists who have made trans rights an all-enveloping priority are prepared either to discuss this civilly, or to refrain from chucking around instant judgements on “transphobia”.

The other day the former Green MSP and legendary land reformer Andy ­Wightman wrote a blog in which he laid out, very respectfully, the reasons for his parting of the ways from the Greens.

I happen to think Mr Wightman is a great loss to Holyrood, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is that in some quarters, a very thoughtful essay was ­instantly dismissed as “a transphobic rant”.

This won’t do. If we have got to a stage where we cannot disagree ­without ­resorting to cheap invective then we are, as a people and a country, in a very ­dangerous place.

If we have got to a stage where people are scared to put their head above this particular parapet because they know they will be put on the hit list, then we are in a very dangerous place.

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry: Why the First Minister was right to use the term ‘pregnant women’

Science deniers have propelled us into an existential crisis over climate change. For too long they were given a platform to spout non-science. We mustn’t allow ourselves to lose again the priceless commodity of common sense.

Or as the celebrated biologist Colin Wright says: “I’m frequently asked why I focus so much on the nature of ­biological sex. It’s because this may be reality’s last stand. If this undeniable fact can be ­denied en masse, then we become ­hostages to chaos. We simply cannot ­afford to lose our collective tether to reality.”