The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, has met with trans campaigners in a landmark occasion at Áras an Uachtaráin, the President’s official residence on the north-side of Dublin.

Members of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) held a discussion with the Irish leader yesterday on the need to extend transgender human rights and equality.

Campaigners say it was the first time any group has met with the President to discuss transgender equality.

“This was a milestone for the trans community,” said TENI Chair Sarah Phillips. “President Higgins was well-versed on our work, and we had a fruitful conversation about our efforts to gain progressive Gender Recognition legislation for Ireland.

“As a community that has been marginalised and is still denied basic human rights, being welcomed so warmly to Áras an Uachtaráin gave us encouragement and support in our ongoing work.”

Also in the delegation was Dr Lydia Foy, who has been seeking a birth certificate noting her true gender since 1993.

Dr Foy won her case six years ago, when the High Court of Ireland declared the country to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in not providing Dr Foy with a pathway to be legally recognised in her true gender. “The President gave us a warm reception and was very generous with his time,” said Dr Foy. “He was supportive of our work, and he spoke knowledgeably about the issues we face.”

The meeting began with President Higgins and Mrs Higgins meeting TENI Director Broden Giambrone, who then introduced the rest of the delegation. The group talked informally about the current work being done for transgender rights and future steps.