ONLY one person in five supports transgender people being legally allowed to self-declare their new gender without the approval of a doctor.

A poll for PinkNews found only 18 per cent backed the idea, with three times as many, 58 per cent, saying a medical opinion ought to be involved, and the rest undecided.

The YouGov poll of 1688 people was conducted UK-wide in anticipation of the UK government consulting on changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

However the Scottish Government, which recently consulted on the Act, has already backed the self-declaration of gender.

Among the 143 Scottish people polled, 60 per cent said a doctor’s approval should be required, 20 per cent said it was not needed, and 20 per cent were undecided.

At present, the legal recognition of a change of gender on a person’s birth certificate requires evidence from a third party such as a doctor or psychologist.

SNP ministers wants to end any medical input and copy Norway, Denmark, Malta, Colombia, Argentina and Ireland and move to self-declaration.

This would mean that applicants under a Scottish system would not need a diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’ or to have lived for a period in their acquired gender.

The issue is highly controversy, with fears male-bodied people who declare themselves female will be able to enter refugees and other women-only spaces.

The poll found majority support for gay marriage and same sex couples having children, but a marked lack of support for gender self-ID.

PinkNews chief executive Benjamin Cohen said the UK government legalise self-declaration regardless.

He said: “Despite the relatively low levels of support for proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, this should not discourage the government from acting. Being a leader means being in front of your people. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson last month said it would not be easy to persuade the public about changing the Gender Recognition Act and extending trans rights.

She said: “Our challenge is to ensure the legislative changes command widespread public support - we have to take the public with us - and that will only happen if we strike the right balance. I hope we can have a thoughtful and sober and fair and sensitive debate, because we owe it to thousands of trans people across the UK to get this one right.”

SNP Equalities Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “No one should ever experience discrimination of prejudice in relation to their sexual orientation or their gender identity.

Scotland has come a long way in the last ten years in defending and promoting LGBTI rights and the Scottish Government will take firm action against discrimination and homophobia wherever and whenever it happens.

“The next step is to ensure that we are doing more to make Scotland fairer for transgender people.

"We have recently consulted on plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in Scotland. We will publish the responses, where we have permission to publish, and the analysis over the Summer and will outline the way ahead in due course.”