This is an important step forward for the trans community in Ireland and it was welcomed by Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).
“TENI warmly welcomes the publication of the revised Bill as it represents significant progress,” said TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. “The reduction in the age an individual can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate from 18 years to 16 years is a step forward to improving the conditions of young trans and intersex people in this country. We were delighted to see the Minister move the legislation in this progressive direction.”
Lowering the Age of Recognition
During the Committee hearings held in October 2013 in advance of the publication of the bill, this issue of the age of recognition was raised by TENI, BeLonG To Youth Services, LGBT Noise, TransParenCI and other experts who made submissions. All called on the Government to remove the age requirement to ensure that the rights of young trans people would be protected by new legislation. This was also echoed by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office who published advice late last year calling on the Government to remove the criterion of a minimum age stating, “an absolute exclusion on young people or their parents seeking a Gender Recognition Certificate is a disproportionate interference with young people’s right to gender recognition.”
Process of Gender Recognition for Young People aged 16 & 17
The move to lower the age to 16 is a significant step and will improve the lives of many young trans and intersex people who will be able to obtain legal recognition prior to leaving school and change necessary identification documents. However, the process that is being proposed is onerous. In order to be legally recognised, young people aged 16 and 17 will require parental consent, a letter from the primary treating physician and a court order to access legal recognition.
“While TENI warmly welcomes the inclusion of 16 and 17 year olds in the revised General Scheme we are deeply concerned that the process will be too burdensome and act as a barrier to many young people being able to avail of the legislation,” said Giambrone.”Requiring a court order is particularly troublesome.”
Moreover, the legislation still excludes those under 16 and leaves them in a vulnerable position. Without legal protection these young people will be open to discrimination. The Minister has indicated that she supports education guidelines which would address many of these issues.
The General Scheme of the Bill will now be referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting and the bill is expected to be published by Government before the end of 2014. It will then be debated in the Dáil and Seanad.
“TENI will continue to advocate for the introduction of inclusive, rights-based legislation that will ensure all members of the trans community can avail of their human rights,” said Giambrone. “TENI will also be actively advocating for the introduction of education guidelines that will support young trans students.”