Current Affairs

Ireland may give official recognition to non-binary people this year

Josh Jackman July 10, 2017
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Ireland is considering giving official recognition to non-binary people.

Under current Irish law, people over the age of 18 are able to change their legal gender through a simple legal process, without the need for medical documentation.

Gender recognition is also available to teenagers from age 16, but only if they secure a court order.

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Even this freedom does not stretch to non-binary citizens, who are only able to choose between male and female designations.

This could all change, as the country’s social protection minister Regina Doherty has promised to review Ireland’s gender identity laws this year.

And in response to a Sinn Féin question this week, she pledged to consult with the trans and non-binary communities before putting any legislation forward, as reported in The Times.

“While the terms of reference and the composition of the review group have yet to be finalised, I would like to assure you that the views of the transgender community and non-binary community will be essential in informing the review,” she said.

Fintan Warfield, a Sinn Féin senator, welcomed these remarks, adding: “The language used by the incoming minister represents a sea change in the approach of the department.

“However, trans and non-binary voices must not be the only ones listened to by government; experienced community reps should partake in the review group also.”

Earlier this year, Warfield filed the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Irish Parliament, which would open up the legal process to younger transgender people.

The government has indicated it will support the bill, which would lower the age for self-determination to 16, allowing trans teens to change their gender without jumping over legal hurdles.

It would also open 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.

Last week, it was revealed that a Canadian baby called Searyl Atli Doty had become the first to receive official identification which defines them as not having a gender.

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Last month, Washington DC became the first US territory to officially recognise non-binary people on official documents, as the ‘X’ category was added to driving licenses and ID cards.

And two days ago, a similar law came into effect in Oregon.

Also in June, California took a huge step towards legally recognising non-binary people.

Leo Varadkar took office as Ireland’s Taoiseach last month, becoming one of just five openly gay heads of government in recent global history.

There are only two other openly gay leaders currently in office: Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić.

More: Europe, gender, Ireland, Ireland, irish politics, Law, Leo Varadkar, non-binary, parliament, Politics, republic of ireland, Taoiseach

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