New laws to give greater legal recognition to trans people will come before the Irish parliament (Dail) next year.
They have been proposed by the Green Party, who say that people should be able to chose which gender they want to be legally recognised by.
Cat McIlroy of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (Teni), told the Irish Examiner: “Having your identity validated and respected by the government and the rest of your peers is important for everyone. Trans people can have their passport amended or have their name change, but not their birth certificate and that is crucial to the identity of many people.
“It needs to be shown in regard to marriage, meaning many trans people cannot legally marry their partner. It’s also important if you are arrested for a crime in relation to how you are charged and where you are detained. There is anecdotal evidence of trans women being incarcerated in male facilities.”
McIlroy estimated that between 80 and 100 people in Ireland are currently transitioning but said the number of trans people not undergoing medical gender reassignment was likely to be much higher.
Minister for social and family affairs Mary Hanafin said she would seek the changes as soon as possible.
In response to a written question in the Dail, she said: “The means by which legal recognition will be effected may include legislation and, in any event, will require careful consideration and consultation.”
However, Ireland’s governing party Fianna Fail was concerned that some people may try to change their gender in order to seek more financial entitlements, such as welfare payments.