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'It will show the government cherishes them as much as any other' - Seanad passes Gender Recognition Amendment Bill

The amendments allow people under 16 to receive gender recognition with parental consent.

Members of TENI celebrating the passing of the 2015 bill outside the Dáil.
Members of TENI celebrating the passing of the 2015 bill outside the Dáil.
Image: Leah Farrell

THE GENDER RECOGNITION (AMENDMENT) bill 2017 has unanimously passed in the Seanad.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI Rights, Senator Fintan Warfield who introduced the bill welcomed the “positive support shown by all parties and independents to the issue of gender recognition for young trans and non-binary people”.

“The lack of legal recognition leaves them with substantial difficulties in everyday life regarding schools, travel, and work,” Warfield said.

“I thank the Senators who supported the Bill passing through second stage and call on all parties to ensure the gender recognition of our young trans and non-binary people is made a reality in the near future.”

Last year, Ireland became the fourth country in the world to enshrine in law a right to gender recognition based on self-declaration.

The amended bill will see further protections for young transgender people, making changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2015 in three ways:

  • Removes the difficult process for young people between 16-17 to receive gender recognition, putting them on equal criteria to those over 18.
  • Allows for young people under 16 to receive gender recognition with parental consent.
  • Allows for non-binary and intersex persons to be specifically considered in the review of the Gender Recognition Act.

People over the age of 18 are allowed to self-declare their own gender identity under the current Act, however while those aged 16-17 could also apply the process was more difficult.

Minister Leo Varadkar also announced the bill’s review will commence by September 2017 and that the complete review will be represented to the Oireachtas by no later than the following September.

Chairperson of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), Sara Philips said that they are delighted that the Minister has committed to include both non-binary and younger children in the review.

“Legal recognition would greatly benefit young trans people by protecting their rights and supporting their well being and would go a long way to understand the needs of non-binary people in Irish society today,” Philips said.

“However, it is important that the review listens to the voices of the trans community and takes into account the lived experience of young people navigating a society that not only discriminates against them for their age but also for being trans.”

Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan, who co-sponsored the Bill along with Senator David Norris, said the previous Act “required the certification of a number of medical professionals” and noted that the new bill will include those identifying as non-binary, something that was missing from the original Act.

“In light of the recent disturbing news about homophobic oppression in Chechnya, it is more important than ever that we reaffirm our support for progress.

“This bill will give not just practical help to young transgender and to non-binary people in legal and administrative areas – it will show them that their government and their country accepts and cherishes them as much as any other.”

The Government indicated that it will not be opposing the legislation.

 Read: Ireland is the first country to carry out a national LGBT youth strategy

More: Gay men in Chechnya reportedly being sent to prison camps and killed

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