Coming through a pandemic, the phrase “unprecedented times” has begun to sound a little battle weary. But there is no other way of phrasing this latest intervention by the UK Government.

They have challenged Holyrood legislation before, successfully, on the basis that MSPs overstepped the mark. But they have never moved to block a Scottish bill based on the inference that it will impact negatively on UK law.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, who first touted the idea of a constitutional rammy within minutes of MSPs overwhelmingly backing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (GRRB) last month, last night confirmed that he will take the extraordinary action to block the reforms.

Mr Jack has insisted that this move is about the law amid concerns from the UK Government that the proposals could impact on the Equalities Act and the 2004 UK Gender Recognition Act.

Read more: What is Section 35 as Westminster and Holyrood face constitutional row

But the SNP will interpret this as an all-out assault on devolution.

Ahead of the last night’s announcement, which had been widely hinted by senior UK ministers, Nicola Sturgeon was visibly frustrated as she accused UK ministers of using trans people “as a political weapon”.

Reforming gender recognition used to be Conservative policy under Theresa May and Ruth Davidson – but the party, except a handful of MSPs who backed the SNP Government’s plans, now oppose self-ID for trans people.

The bill states categorically that the gender reforms will make no changes to the Equalities Act and the minister behind the bill, Shona Robison, went to great lengths to rule out any amendments that could have been perceived to flirt with the Equalities Act.

The Greens’ Maggie Chapman pulled no punches in her response, insisting that “the last few months have been particularly distressing for a lot of trans people who have had to bear the brunt of some of the most despicable political attacks in recent memory”.

She accused the Conservatives of being a “discriminatory, anti-trans and increasingly authoritarian government”.

Read more: UK Government confirms move to block Scotland's gender reforms

The latest statistics show a surge in hate crimes against transgender people. Colin Macfarlane, the director of Stonewall Scotland, previously told MSPs that some of the narrative targeted trans people was “reminiscent” of the hatred directed at gay rights activists “that there was something inherently dangerous about us”.

The Scottish Government is now likely to seek a judicial review to unpause the gender reform legislation.

But whatever happens in the courts, trans people in Scotland will continue to be used as a constitutional football – a position that should shame those on all sides of the debate.