Mary Douglas, a board member of Grassroots Conservatives, a campaign group which “promotes conservative values” within the party, angered Radio 4 listeners after she argued it “should not be easy” to change gender.
She told Radio 4′s Today programme: “The law is there to protect us - normally from other people, but also sometimes from ourselves.”
The Tory councillor’s comments came following proposals from the government to make it easier for people to legally change their gender by removing “demeaning” rules.
Under the current system, a person needs to diagnosed with gender dysphoria before beginning the process and must provide evidence that they have been living in transition for at least two years.
Douglas criticised the move, saying she was “very concerned” by the plans.
“If somebody thinks they have a mismatch between how they think and the way their body is, the question is: which should be changed?” she said.
“What’s interesting is that many people who have gender dysphoria also have other mental health conditions like depression or drug addiction. They are deeply troubled and it has been proven that when they change their gender, that doesn’t solve those issues.”
When asked by Nick Robinson whether she believed wanting to change your change is a mental health condition, Douglas continued: “I’m not a doctor, but I have read doctors who think that it is and until very recently that was the medical consensus. I don’t see that anything has changed.
“If for example you have someone with anorexia who says ‘I’m too fat’ and you look at them and you go ‘really, you are not’, it’s not actually respectful or loving to affirm that person in a belief that is false, that doesn’t tie up with reality.”
The activist’s comments sparked an outpouring of anger and disbelief from listeners.
“As a therapist, I’ll gladly offer Mary Douglas sessions to help her get to the roots of her bigotry about trans people,” one man tweeted.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Maria Miller told the radio programme there was no evidence to suggest that the proposals would make people take changing their gender lightly.
Figures from LGBT rights charity Stonewall show that almost half (48%) of young trans people have attempted suicide, while 59% say they have at least considered ending their lives.