Transgender kids under 16 could change their legal gender under radical Irish proposals

Nick Duffy March 31, 2017
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A new gender recognition bill has been submitted to the Irish Parliament on the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Under current Irish law, only people over the age of 18 are able to change their legal gender through a simple legal process. Gender recognition is available to teenagers from age 16, but only if they secure a court order.

But lawmakers today filed the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Irish Parliament, which would open up the legal process to younger transgender people.

The Bill, proposed by Senator Warfield, and co-signed by Independent Senator David Norris and Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan, would lower the age for self-determination to 16, allowing transgender teens to change their gender without jumping through legal hurdles.

The law also opens a legal pathway for transgender children under the age of 16 to gain legal recognition as their true gender, though on a more restricted basis. The bill would also commit to reviewing the inclusion of non-binary persons in Ireland’s gender laws.

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield said: “Sinn Féin are proud to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility with the announcement and launch of the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017.

“[We] wish to introduce a right of self-determination for persons who have reached the age of 16 years, ensuring access to a Gender Recognition Certificate for 16 and 17 year olds on the same terms as currently apply to persons who are 18 years or older.

“Through family consent and the Circuit Family Court, the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 also seeks to open a legal pathway for those under the age of 16 to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

“The Bill recognises that while medical practitioners can play an important role in transitioning processes for transgender and gender-variant children and their families, legal gender recognition for persons under 16 years should not be conditional upon medical assent.

“The third element to our legislation is focussed on the status of non-binary persons in the two-year review of the operation of the Principal 2015 Act. It requires the Minister to specifically consider the possibility of providing a Gender Recognition Certificate to persons who do not identify as male/man or female/woman, in addition to the topics and questions that the Minister chooses to explore in the review.

“Sinn Féin have consistently been serious about legislating for the rights of the Trans community, and the LGBTQI+ more broadly. It is for that reason we have sought cross chamber support for this important Bill.

“Ireland can be a model republic, as a beacon of hope for Trans and LGBQI+ people everywhere. We must continue to strengthen our global standing as a leader for Trans rights and extend that recognition to young people. Let us recognise and celebrate the existence and visibility of Trans young people in law.”

More: Europe, Gay, Ireland, Ireland, LGBT, Trans, Transgender

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