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Dublin: 3 °C Friday 18 April, 2014

Mixed reaction from transgender group to gender recognition bill

The bill will provide for State recognition of the acquired gender of transgender people over 18 who are not married or in a civil partnership.

THE DETAILS OF a gender recognition bill have been published today – but Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) said that some people’s ‘hearts will break’ reading it.

The Bill

The general scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill 2013 was published by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, today, following Cabinet approval.

It will provide for State recognition of the acquired gender of transgender people over 18 and who are not married or in a civil partnership.

When it is enacted, it will mean:

that a person who transitions gender will have their acquired gender fully recognised by the State for all purposes – including the right to marry or enter a civil partnership in the acquired gender and the right to a new birth certificate.

The administrative approach to the bill will involve:

  • A statutory self-declaration by the applicant that they intend to live permanently in the new gender; and
  • Validation by the primary treating physician that the person has transitioned or is transitioning to the acquired gender.

The applicant will not have to specify that they have been living in their acquired gender for a specific period of time prior to their application.

“I believe this is a more compassionate and understanding approach and central to the spirit of the Bill,” said Burton. The new approach will also facilitate applications from people with intersex conditions, should they wish to apply.

The position of a transgender person who is already married, or in a civil partnership, and who wishes for their acquired gender to be recognised will be looked at again once the Government has decided its response to the Constitutional Convention recommendations on same-sex marriage.

The General Scheme of the Bill will now be referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection for consideration in the autumn.

Reaction

“We’ve seen legislative progress today, which is a positive step forward,” said TENI Director Broden Giambrone.

However, Giambrone said that there are three elements of the draft legislation “that are cause for grave concern”.

These are: the age barrier, the requirement to have a doctor’s supporting statement, and the requirement to be single. “We work with families whose hearts will break reading these draft Heads of Bill,” said Giambrone.

According to Giambrone, the age barrier means the bill excludes the intersex-affected children who may need to avail of the rights contained within recognition, such as accessing pre-school.

“We welcome the omission of the requirement to have a formal diagnosis of a mental illness,” said Giambrone. “However, having to have a supporting statement from a physician seems like diagnosis by any other name.”

Giambrone also expressed shock at the fact that today’s press conference launch did “not seek to involve or include members of the trans community”.

TENI is set to publish a forensic analysis of the draft Heads of Bill and will hold a community forum within the next month to discuss next steps for advocacy.

“What Minister Burton presented today is a starting point,” concluded Giambrone.

Read: Most LGBT Europeans still afraid and threatened: report>

Read: Trans community has “waited long enough” for gender recognition>

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