Controversial proposals to reform the laws governing how people change gender are an attempt to “override science”, according to an SNP MSP.

The SNP is facing increasing internal pressure over Scottish Government policies on so-called gender self-identification.

Shettleston MSP John Mason’s intervention comes days after the SNP’s Haddington branch challenged Scottish Government guidance on how schools should respond if children say they wish to change gender.

READ MORE: Plans launched to make legally changing gender easier

Members wrote to MSPs claiming a “transgender ideology” was sweeping schools and guidance had been introduced to schools “apparently without any consultation, evaluation or risk assessment”.

Ministers have been consulting on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act which would mean someone who does not identify with the sex they were born into, must be automatically recognised as the gender they adopt.

Currently people can officially change gender, but only if they are diagnosed as suffering from gender dysphoria, have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years, and commit to living in their new gender for the rest of their life. 

The Scottish Government has just published the consultation results on proposals which would allow those who identify as a different gender from their birth sex to simply declare the change. They found that 60 per cent of people responding backed allowing people to change their legal gender by simple self-declaration.

But Mr Mason said the fact the consultation responses had broadly supported the proposals did not mean Scotland as a whole had backed it. “That is nonsense. Scots have not backed anything,” he said. “[It] was a consultation, not a referendum.”

READ MORE: Letters: Are we trying to override science in trans debate?

Writing to The Herald, Mr Mason said the results were not representative and claimed the policy was an attempt to override science.

“It does seem to me that normally science can tell at birth whether a human being or an animal is male or female.  Are we trying to override science by saying it is possible for males to become females and females to become males?” he said.

The consultation also found 48% of those responding said people should be allowed to change gender as many times as they like.

Consultation responses showed 70% of people thought someone should be able to change gender without their spouse having a say.

However a minority of respondents opposed the changes on grounds including fears the system would be open to abuse, creating a potential risk to women in spaces such as changing rooms, hospital wards and refuges.  

Only 49% of consultation respondents were resident in Scotland.  

Mr Mason said it was important to retain a measure of medical and scientific assessment, particularly when young people express a desire to change their gender.

“We need both to consider the individual’s feelings and desires but we also need medical and scientific assessment,” he wrote.

“Is a change to the other gender really in the best interests of a particular person? That applies to people of all ages because we as a society have a duty of care for one another. But in particular it applies to our greater duty of care towards young people.”

READ MORE: Plans launched to make legally changing gender easier

Mr Mason also expressed concern about a lack of discussion and debate, saying those debating the issue should not to revert to name-calling.

“Does it help the discussion to call our opponents bigots or transphobes?  I do hope we can all try to engage in a balanced and sensitive way,” he said.

A Scottish Government spokesman said there had been more than 15,500 responses to the public consultation, adding: “We will consider the views of consultees as we take forward our commitment to bring forward legislation on gender recognition.”