Minister’s proposal would allow Irish transgender people legal gender recognition at 16

Transgender people will be allowed to apply for legal recognition of their acquired gender from the earlier age of 16, under proposals Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton will bring to Government today.

Last summer Ms Burton published the draft heads of the Gender Recognition Bill which will allow transgender people to have their status recognised by the State for all purposes – including the right to marry or enter a civil partnership in the acquired gender.

After the issuing of a gender recognition certificate by the Department of Social Protection, the transgender person will be able to apply for a new birth certificate that recognises his or her acquired gender.

The person has also right to have a birth certificate that recognises his or her acquired gender. This will be done through the issuing of a gender recognition certificate by the Department of Social Protection. The transgender person will then be able to apply for a new birth certificate. However, the original draft legislation recognised those rights for people over the age of 18. Source: Irish Times

Why does Gender Recognition Legislation matter?

Trans people cannot legally change the gender on their birth certificate under any circumstance. Birth certificates are a foundational identity document and are often requested for official purposes (such as accessing social welfare, attaining a PPS number and getting married). While Ireland does, in certain cases, allow for changing gender on documents like passports and driving licences, this results in trans people having inconsistent official identification documentation. That is, a person may be recognised as one gender on certain documents and another gender on their birth certificate. The result of this can be a ‘forced outing’, where a trans person is outed as trans against their will when they apply for a job, a new passport or entry to college. Forced outing can result in harassment, discrimination and even violence.
The lack of legal recognition for trans people has also been deemed a clear human rights abuse. Presently, Ireland is the last country in the European Union that does not allow for legal recognition of trans people, despite a High Court ruling that this is incompatible with Ireland’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2009, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg stated, “There is no excuse for not immediately granting [the transgender] community their full and unconditional human rights”. source: Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) 

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