The proposes amendments to the Gender Recognition Act have been announced to coincide with International Trans Day of Visibility
Sinn Féin has moved to propose new legislation aiming to smooth the pathway for younger trans people to have their true gender legally recognised.
If passed by the Oireachtas, the three part legislation would allow for people aged 16 and 17 to legally determine their own gender and open up a route for people under 16 to move towards having their professed gender recognised.
It would also ensure that the rights of gender-fluid or non-binary persons are considered in a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015.
The proposed amendments were put forward in the Seanad today by Sinn Fein spokesperson for youth, arts, and LGBTQI+ rights, Fintan Warfield.
The announcement has been timed to coincide with International Trans Day of Visibility which is being celebrated around the world today.
Since last Sunday, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) has been running its annual awareness campaign to highlight the mental health issues facing many members of the community.
The latest LGBTIreland report published in 2016 warned that over 75% of transgender participants in the study had considered ending their own lives – with 35% following through with an attempt.
Almost half of trans participants in the study had engaged in self-harm, while only 40% of transgender people said they feel safe expressing their gender in public.
Speaking today, Senator Warfield said the Sinn Féin proposals recognise that while medical practitioners play an important role in the transitioning process for transgender and gender-variant people, legal recognition should not be based upon medical assent.
“The passing of the Gender Recognition Act in 2015 was a milestone for equality in this state,” he said. “Gender Recognition has enhanced the lives of many in the trans community, of that there can be no doubt.”
“However, the state in no way offers a pathway to legal gender recognition for citizens under the age of sixteen, while the current legal process facing 16 and 17 year olds and their families is invasive, gruelling, and problematic.”
He said the proposed measures would ensure access to a Gender Recognition Certificate for 16 and 17-year-olds - on the same terms as currently apply to their adult counterparts.
It would provide a pathway to recognition for persons under the age of 16 - although they would still need family consent and a Circuit Court order to apply for the certificate.
The third aspect of the proposals would require the government to consider the possibility of providing a certificate recognising the gender-fluidity of those who do not identify as male or female when the 2015 act comes up for its two-year review later this year.
He called for cross-party support for the measures - adding that Ireland has the opportunity to establish itself as 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,” he said. “Let us recognise and celebrate the existence and visibility of trans young people in law.”
A full list of events for Trans Mental Health Week can be found at transforminglives.ie