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Irish Senator wants to change gender law to recognise transgender children

Nick Duffy June 16, 2015

An Irish Senator has tabled an amendment to the state’s Gender Recognition bill – that would legally recognise children who are transgender.

The country has committed to passing a bill that grants legal recognition for the first time, following a protracted lawsuit on the issue.

The Gender Recognition bill is currently passing through the Irish Parliament – with sweeping changes made to allow transgender people to gain legal recognition without seeing a doctor or getting medical treatment.

However, one Senator is attempting to change the bill to address a hole in the legislation – which only currently applies to over-16s, with significant hurdles for under-18s.

Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout has tabled an amendment that could create an ‘interim Gender Recognition Certificate’ for people who are yet to turn 16 – granting legal recognition to transgender children.

The Senator said: “There are few groups in Ireland more vulnerable than our transgender (trans) children and young people.

“This is not a remote issue. We are talking about real children throughout Ireland right now. Many of these children are living a nightmare from as early as between three and five years of age when their gender identity is likely developed, where their gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth and therefore indicated on their birth certificate.

“These children and their parents face numerous challenges as so many of our services are driven by our birth certificates.”

“As a children’s rights activist I am profoundly disappointed that children under the age of 16 – and given the onerousness of the process for 16-18 year olds we can say in effect ALL children – have been excluded from the provisions of the Gender Recognition Bill 2014, which enables a person to apply for formal legal recognition of their preferred gender. ”

She continued: “It is fundamentally wrong that this Bill does not provide a mechanism for legal recognition, even on an interim basis, of gender for trans children under 16 who seek it, where there is parental consent, support of the child’s GP and agreement that this is in the best interests of the child.”

“I sincerely hope the Government is prepared to deal with the question of trans children in this Bill. We have this opportunity to make a massively positive impact on the lives of trans children in Ireland and to ensure, unlike too often in the past, that we are not compounding and ignoring the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.”

 

Lisa Mc Kenny, a youth worker with LGBT group BeLonG To said: “We have an opportunity now to make a life changing impact on the lives of Trans young people and families all over Ireland.

“Senator Turnhout’s proposal offers a pathway for young people, which was lacking in previous incarnations of the bill.

“Acceptance of this amendment would greatly help the many trans young people we work with, and send a powerful message of inclusion to this often particularly marginalised and isolated group.”

More: Europe, Ireland

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