Broden Giambrone, Chief Executive of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), welcomed the news.
“Legal recognition is vital to improving the daily lives of trans people in Ireland,” said Giambrone. “This is a significant step forward in ending Dr Lydia Foy’s twenty year struggle to be legally recognised in her true gender. And it is a significant step forward for our entire community who will be able to avail of the legislation in 2015.”
“Now that there is a firm timeline for the legislation, it’s imperative that the Government review the content of this legislation,” continued Giambrone. “It’s not enough to have a law. The Government now has the opportunity to enact human rights based legislation that fully protects the dignity and autonomy of all trans and intersex people in Ireland.”
In June of this year the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, published a revised General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill. However, the current criteria in the proposed legislation falls short of human rights standards. This is despite a shift at the European level towards more inclusive and progressive recognition legislation.
In 2014, Denmark became the first European country to introduce gender recognition legislation that had no requirement for a physician’s statement, diagnosis or any other medical intervention. Not only does this solve many practical issues that are compounded by linking trans identities with medical interventions, this legislation represents a growing shift in the Western world in affirming the self-determination of trans people.
In the current Irish draft legislation, there is a requirement of medical assessment by a specialist physician, which undermines the ability of trans people to self-determine their identities. Trans people must also be single if they wish to apply for recognition. This means that those in existing marriages will have to choose between their families and their right to be recognised, which is an impossible choice for any citizen to have to make. Furthermore, there is no procedure for recognition for any individual under 16 years of age, which increases the vulnerability of trans youth.
“Positive steps have been taken but Ireland must not legislate for the past. TENI will continue to advocate for the introduction of inclusive, rights-based legislation that will ensure all trans and intersex people can avail of their human rights,” said Giambrone.
Overview of Gender Recognition Legislation
Ireland is currently the only country in the EU that has no provision for legal gender recognition of trans persons. This legislation has been developed as a result of the previous government being declared in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in failing to recognise Dr Lydia Foy in her female gender and provide her with a new birth certificate.
The failure to introduce Gender Recognition Legislation has left trans and intersex persons without formal legal status and has significantly impacted upon their ability to access basic services such as social security benefits, education and transport.
Many aspects of the current scheme are to be welcomed. However, there are still a number of key areas which fail to fully protect trans people and their families.