Kemi Badenoch has said she opposes gender self-identification because it puts women and girls at risk from predators.
The minister for women and equalities argued that sexual predators would be able to “exploit any system that says you can just say you are what you are”.
She made the comments in an interview with The Times after the UK Government announced this week it was issuing an unprecedented Section 35 order under the Scotland Act to block legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament to reform the gender recognition process.
Holyrood’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill would approve reforms allowing trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) without the need for a medical diagnosis.
Ms Badenoch highlighted what she sees as the risks of self-identification.
“We have no problem with that in the sense that we want people who are trans to be able to live their lives freely and as they wish,” she told the newspaper.
“The problem is that self-identification also makes life a lot easier for other people we don’t want to have those sorts of freedoms.
“Predators would be able to exploit any system that says you can just say you are what you are.
“It’s also quite bad for trans people. They then get conflated and associated with the predators and people who are looking to do bad things.
“That’s why having a stricter regime rather than a loose regime is quite important.”
There is also a problem around the rhetoric, she added.
“Rather than having a disagreement on whether you think self-identification is OK or not OK, people who have a different view are then abused, insulted, called transphobic.
“That’s what has really toxified the debate, and made a lot of people scared to say what they think.”
Earlier this month, Ms Badenoch announced that the Government is planning to restrict the number of countries from where transgender people who have had their gender recognised do not need to provide medical evidence to gain legal recognition in the UK.
Currently, people who have already had their gender recognised in 41 overseas countries and territories can apply for a GRC in the UK through a simplified process.
Ms Badenoch said nations which no longer have “equivalently rigorous” systems to the UK will be removed from the list, meaning people from there would have to apply for a UK GRC through the main route.