I know I slag off the Scottish Greens a lot (it’s fun!) but I have a question for their leadership and a piece of advice. Question: how often do you speak to people who have different views to you on the issue of gay and trans rights? If the answer is “not much” (and I suspect it is) then my advice is: do it, because it worked for me.

What happened was that, for quite a long time, my instinct on the trans issue was rather like that of the Greens: to see critics of self-ID, conversion therapy and so on as analogous to the critics of gay rights in the 80s. Then, as often happens in this job, I was sent to interview people with a different point of view. I also attended protests and events at Holyrood and Edinburgh University and continued to speak to people on both sides. In other words, my instinct (never entirely reliable) met the arguments; my feelings met the facts.

The result of this process wasn’t particularly fast; over two to three years or so, the more I spoke to people, the more my views shifted. I was impressed with the well-evidenced, well-argued, logical case of (mostly) women who were worried about where the trans issue was going, and I was often dismayed by the illogical, illiberal and sometimes immature case of the trans activists. I remember one of them telling me, for example, that it’s okay for women opposed to self-ID to have their opinions if they express them only in private. And that was from someone who considered themselves progressive.

The Scottish Greens take much the same approach I’m afraid: according to them, people with gender-critical views – people like Kate Forbes – are apparently beyond the pale and should ideally be excluded from public office, public platforms and public life. When the issue of Ms Forbes’s appointment as deputy first minister came up at Holyrood last week for instance, the Greens voted against, even though their case for doing so was based on some pretty fatal failures of logic. Let’s go through them.

First, the letters LGBT. The Scottish Greens’ opposition to Ms Forbes’ appointment was based, they said, on her attitude to LGBT rights, but using LGBT, deliberately or unconsciously, conflates two different issues. There’s the L and the G and gay marriage and gay rights and so on, which most people support and is largely settled as an issue of public policy. Then there’s the T and trans which involves different issues and is far from settled. As it happens, Ms Forbes is critical on the L, the G, and the T but that isn’t how it works for a lot of people who may have different views on the different subjects. LGBT obscures this fact and suggest it’s all the same thing. It isn’t.

You can see the conflation of the L, G and T in the arguments Patrick Harvie made against the appointment of Ms Forbes. First of all, he speaks about “our community” which suggests a group of people who share the same characteristics, attitudes or interests when this is plainly not the case. Not only do the interests of gay, lesbian and trans often involve different issues, there are some gays and lesbians who are concerned the T works against gay interests, in suggesting for example that effeminate boys who will probably grow up gay may actually be female, with all that entails.

Mr Harvie also conflates the two things – again, whether it’s deliberate or unconscious I’m not sure – when he argues critics of gender reform are just like the critics of gay reform in the 80s. Writing in The National the other day, he said that “our community is very much in the firing line and I know a lot of people are deeply worried about what’s coming next. It would be easy to say that it feels like a jump back in time to the 1980s. But, in some ways, it’s even worse.”

I can see what Mr Harvie is doing here because I was prone to doing it myself not so long ago, but one of the earliest conversations I had with a gender-critical feminist started to help me see another point of view. The analogy to gay rights, she told me, is a false one because at no point did gay campaigners say that in order for their rights to be recognised, they should have the right to come into women-only spaces and at no point did the campaigns on gay equality morph into a claim that seemed unreasonable. This is an important point, but again, it’s obscured by the idea that LGBT is a community that involves similar issues and rights.

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The other problem with the concept of LGBT is the idea that there can be spokespeople for it (usually self-appointed, usually in the Scottish Greens, and usually called Patrick or Ross). The issue with that is that the people contained within LGBT (willingly or not) have different opinions. Many of the gender-critical feminists I’ve spoken to, for instance, are gay and Patrick and Ross certainly do not speak for them. The same applies to gay Tories who are definitely a thing (surprise: the Tory party is the gayest party of them all). The point is that the range is so broad, and the interests and opinions so different, that it renders the idea of LGBT meaningless and the idea of Patrick or Ross as its spokespeople laughable.

In seeking to speak for LGBT as a group, the Scottish Greens should also be more careful with the tone of the comments they make. Ross Greer told Holyrood that “Scotland is in many ways a harder place to be LGBT today than it was five years ago”. He also said “the existence of LGBTQ people, especially queer young people, has been called into question in a way many of us hoped was consigned to history … many LGBTQ Scots are afraid.”

Where to start? On Mr Greer’s point that Scotland is in many ways a harder place to be LGBT than it was five years ago, it is undermined, again, by the meaningless breadth of the acronym. LGBT includes G for gay and it would be remarkable, indeed incredible, to argue it’s harder for gay people now than it was in a society where there’s gay marriage, legal equality and broad social and cultural acceptance. So perhaps Mr Greer meant trans, in which case he should say so.

Mr Greer should also be careful about the kind of vocabulary he uses. “Queer” may be the word du jour among twentysomethings in the Scottish Green party but for a lot of older gay people it was, and still is, a slur with echoes of the 70s and 80s when it really was worse than it is now. How about some sensitivity over that? Or perhaps the advocacy the Scottish Greens purport to carry out for LGBT people only extends to certain types of gay?

The point is this: the idea of the Scottish Greens as LGBT spokespeople rests on fundamental misconceptions and flaws which are starting to unravel. The acronym. The idea that everyone under the acronym has similar characteristics or interests. The idea that everyone has similar opinions. The idea that everyone is happy to be called queer. And the idea that gay people would necessarily agree with Mr Harvie and Mr Greer. Which leaves us, I think, with a fairly clear takeaway message for the Greens today. Speak for yourself by all means. But you do not speak for gay people. Stop it.