Gender reassignment to be legally recognised in Ireland for the first time

Emily Willmott June 20, 2014
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A revision has been made to a bill approved by the Irish Cabinet which would change the minimum age from 18 to 16, for applications for a gender recognition certificate.

The bill would allow transgender people to have legal recognition of their gender in all dealings with the State, public bodies, and civil and commercial society

Joan Burton, the Irish Minister for Social Protection, this week announced that the proposed Gender Recognition Bill will be submitted for drafting and “enacted as soon as possible” following publication of the legislation.

The revised General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill was released yesterday after receiving Cabinet approval. Amendments made to the original version mean that the minimum age has been lowered from 18 to 16, however tighter controls will be in place for 16 and 17 year old applicants.

Applicants aged 18 or over will only need to provide a self-declaration of intent to live permanently as the gender the are applying for recognition of and “Validation” by the primary physician that the individual has transitioned or is in the process of doing so.

16 and 17 year olds will be required to obtain parental consent, a court order providing exemption from the minimum age requirement of 18 and confirmation from two different physicians that the applicant is “sufficiently mature to make the application.”

The stipulation that applicants must be single remains in place, “pending the outcome of the referendum on same-sex marriage.”

If successful, applicants will then receive a Gender Recognition Certificate, following which they will then be able to obtain a new birth certificate through another application.

The Gender Recognition Bill will only apply to the Republic of Ireland; in Northern Ireland it is already possible to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate as a result of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act which applies to all of the UK.

The legislation “will mean that a person will have their acquired gender fully recognised for all purposes, including dealings with the State, public bodies, and civil and commercial society.” This issue is key to trans advocates, as transgender people experience disproportionate levels of bullying and violence due to their gender identity and/or expression. Being outed as a result of mismatch between gender as recorded on legal documents and a person’s gender expression can therefore be extremely dangerous for transgender people.

The bill also allows intersex people to request to change their gender as represented on legal documents: “The legislation will also allow for applications from persons with intersex conditions should they wish to apply. Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical definitions of female or male. As a result, intersex persons may find themselves living in a gender at variance to the gender assigned at birth.”

Joan Burton praised the legislation, saying: “The application process will be administrative, which I believe will be a streamlined and dignified process which protects all concerned”.

More: Europe, gender recognition, intersex, Ireland, Ireland, republic of ireland, trans rights, Transgender

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