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Transgender children are 'living in a nightmare'

Jillian van Turnhout wants them to be given recognition on an interim basis.

Image: Shutterstock

A SENATOR IS proposing that transgender children should be able to receive legal recognition of their stated gender on an interim basis before they turn 18.

Jillian van Turnhout says that some children between the ages of three and five are “living in a nightmare” because the gender assigned on their birth certificate does not match their gender.

The Gender Recognition Bill is reaching the final stages of the legislative process. A fortnight ago, the government announced that trans people Ireland will no longer have to rely on testimony from psychiatrists or endocrinologists to have their gender recognised by the State.

The decision was welcomed by trans groups and advocates but van Turnhout and the Youth Council are both saying that it doesn’t recognise the rights of children.

“We are talking about real children throughout Ireland right now,” the senator today.

Many of these children are living a nightmare from as early as between three and five years of age when their gender identity is likely developed, where their gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth and therefore indicated on their birth certificate.  

Van Turnhout says that schooling is a concrete example of how transgender children are forced to live life as a gender that is not their own.

Given the prevalence of single-sex schools in Ireland, Van Turnhout argues that schooling has the potential to cause “distress, embarrassment and humiliation” for a transgender child:

“Is this young child, a boy, really going to be forced to go through a girls’ school, wearing a girl’s uniform, using the wrong name and personal details in order to access the education available in his locality?”.

The senator adds that her proposed Interim Gender Recognition Certificate would be in no way related to a decision that may be taken by a trans person later in their lives to pursue medical intervention.

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The National Youth Council of Ireland is supporting Van Turnhout’s proposed amendment. The group says that it’s about the best interests of children.

“NYCI believes that all of our legislation should be guided by what is in the best interest of young people,” says director Mary Cunningham.

“We support the proposed Interim Gender Recognition Certificate for children, which would allow the rights and best interests of trans children to be promoted and protected.”

Photos: Trans people are sharing Vanity Fair cover photos of themselves >

Column: Why do I have to choose between my identity and my family? >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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