A SENIOR SNP politician who is fighting for reforms to the gender recognition act has revealed she has been challenged over her gender when using female toilets.

Mhairi Black spoke to The Herald on Sunday, along with her colleague Hannah Bardell MP, about her hopes for the proposals which could see transgender Scots able to "self-declare" their gender, making the process of obtaining a recognition certificate easier and less invasive.

The plans were delayed earlier this year, with the Scottish government vowing to hold a second consultation on the issue after critics questioned whether the reforms would put women in danger.

Some critics, including other prominent SNP politicians, say the proposals could allow predatory men to enter women-only spaces such as toilets and changing rooms to commit assaults.

Black, who represents Paisley and Renfrewshire South, admitted she has been challenged several times when using female toilets and has been supported by other women who have stood up for her – one of the reasons she feels strongly about supporting the transgender community over GRA reforms.

She said: “I’ve been challenged going into female toilets before, course I have. Are you kidding?

“I’m the sort of person who can deal with it, but there was one time I didn’t even have to and it was one of the most powerful things I’ve experienced. There was a woman beside me who said [to the person questioning me] ‘Who the hell do you think you are, who are you to police this?’

“That is exactly what I needed in that situation, I didn’t have power, but the woman beside me did.

“In this debate, I’m the person with the power and I’m not leaving trans people behind.”

Black and Bardell both said they had “absolutely no doubt” that the proposals would be implemented but agreed that questions people had on the issue must be listened to.

Black admitted: “I do struggle with people who think their world is crumbling over a bureaucratic change about a certificate.

“The types of arguments people are using, it is the same tired, homophobic guff just rebranded against transgender people.”

When asked if she believed members of her own party had issues with transgender people, Black said: “There are clearly transphobic elements within the SNP, but I think you’d find it hard to find a political party that doesn’t have these problems.

“It is something that has to be dealt with. I’m of the opinion that the vast majority of it is due to people not understanding it and not being educated enough on it, and hopefully that will change.

“I have had some very positive conversations with people, men and women, MPs from my own party and others, who want to understand and when you explain what he proposals mean they are behind them.

“The reforms will still be happening, though. Absolutely, without doubt.”

Bardell, who represents Livingston, has also been a staunch supporter of the reform plans and questioned misinformation being spread around the plans.

She said: “We have seen on all sides across the debate, periods of anger and irrationality. Some of the rhetoric is straight of out of the 80s, though. Propaganda that was used against lesbian and gay people is now being used against trans people. That is really worrying.

“People absolutely need to have the opportunity to discuss this, but the most important thing is to have compassion and be able to listen.

“I’ve tried really hard but it becomes impossible to have a sensible debate sometimes without people becoming hysterical, who are clearly anti-trans.

“We are looking to modernise legislation and processes that are already in place, and people have hijacked that and turned it into something that it just isn’t about.

“There is an awful lot of misinformation being spread about what the plans actually mean, and we have to find ways of getting the facts out there.”

Bardell said she was concerned to see elected members supporting or bolster organisations which she believes are “clearly transphobic” but insisted: “This is not about internal party machinations. It’s about trans and non-binary people, and these groups, some of their behaviour and comments ... the impact it is having on my constituents and my colleagues’ constituents is severe.

“I respect all of my colleagues but I find it very difficult to see those organisations that are being transphobic, supported.”

Equalities Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced on June 20 that the Scottish Government would hold a second consultation on the proposals to allow transgender people the ability to obtain a gender recognition certificate without medical assessments, 16 months after the closure of the first consultation on the issue.

Critics said the delay had caused a huge amount of distress, with some trans people reporting a rise in victimisation, hate crimes and abuse.

Before the summer Parliamentary recess, Somerville said the Government remained “committed” to delivering the reforms, but wanted to commission assessments to make sure the measures did not damage other people’s rights.

The equalities secretary insisted the previous proposals did not undermine women’s rights under the Equality Act 2010, including protecting single-sex services such as rape crisis centres or refuges.