THE FORMER leader of Scottish Labour has warned women who support the gender recognition reforms have been left “voiceless” – claiming symbols of feminism have been “appropriated by a cause they don’t support”.

MSPs will take a final vote this week on the Scottish Government’s plans to modernise the process for trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate.

Under the plans, supported by all Holyrood parties except the Tories, trans people will no longer need a gender dysphoria diagnosis to obtain a certificate with a move to a system of self-ID.

If the plans are approved, the lower age limit to apply for a gender recognition certificate will be lowered from 18 to 16 years old.

Ahead of the vote scheduled for Wednesday, former Labour leader at Holyrood, Kezia Dugdale, has spoken out for the “need to call out the populist tactics at play” by those who oppose the reforms.

Writing in The Times, Ms Dugdale said she was intervening “to defend the process and indeed the people this bill is really about – the trans community”.

When Ms Dugdale was Labour leader at Holyrood, all parties including Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives, supported the delayed reforms.

Campaigners, claiming to be standing up for women’s rights, oppose the plans.

The protesters, who have harnessed the colours of universal suffrage, claim the proposals undermine the rights of women and girls.

They have also touted claims the proposals impact on single sex spaces, despite no need for a gender recognition certificate to enter any of these locations.

Mr Dugdale said: “From where I sit, it is the women who support this legislation who find themselves voiceless.

"Women who have watched the colours green, white and purple, the symbols of universal suffrage, be appropriated by a cause they don’t support.

“Women who have been lifelong supporters of organisations such as Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and Engender, who have had to watch these great organisations denigrated as being in the pockets of the powerful purely because of how they are funded rather than what they believe or where the evidence points them to.

“Lesbians and gay women are portrayed as one homogeneity particularly outraged or sidelined by this legislation because of the reach of powerful political figures within their number.”

She added: “Sadly, facts have been absent from much of this debate, which instead has fed on division and been driven by and riven with fear.

“This is classic populism, where for one to be strong another must be weak; for one group’s rights to be enhanced another must be diminished; that I cannot be a feminist, a lesbian and still support trans rights.

“This is a bill introduced with good intent. But a proposal designed to improve the lives of trans people has, during its deliberation, left them extremely vulnerable.”

Vocal campaigners opposing the plans have claimed they have been silenced during the debate.

But Ms Dugdale said: “This bill will become law this week not because women were silenced but because many female proponents of it refused to be.”

Earlier this month, former Labour MSPs and long-time critics of the plans, Jenny Marra and Johann Lamont, called for the proposals to be halted.