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"A historic moment" - Oireachtas signs off on gender recognition bill

Ireland today became the fourth country to pass a law of this kind.

39 Gender Recognition Bil copy (1) Members of TENI celebrating the passage of the bill outside the Dáil today. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

IRELAND HAS BECOME the fourth country in the world to enshrine in law a right to gender recognition based on self-declaration.

The historic move came earlier today when the Seanad signed off on Tánaiste Joan Burton’s Gender Recognition Bill, which passed through the Dáil last week.

It will now go before President Michael D. Higgins to be formally signed into law, and is expected to come into force by the end of the summer.

Activists have hailed the passage of the law as “a historic moment for the trans community in Ireland.”

Sara Phillips, chair of the Transgender Equality Network (TENI), said in a statement:

This legislation marks an incredible shift in Irish society. Our community is finally stepping out of the shadows.

Under the new legislation, people who wish to have their change of gender recognised by the state – in birth certs, passports, driving licenses – will simply make a formal declaration of their “settled and solemn intention” to that effect.

Previously, it had been intended that applicants would be forced to provide supporting testimony from endocrinologists and psychiatrists, but that requirement was dropped after fierce opposition from activists.

58 Gender Recognition Bill copy Clare Farrell and Broden Giambrone from TENI, holding a copy of the bill at the Dáil today. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Furthermore, since the legalisation of same-sex marriage in May, trans people will also not be required to divorce or end a civil partnership, in order to have their preferred gender legally recognised.

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Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, welcomed these changes as “a truly historic victory for human rights.”

There has been criticism, however, of one central component of the Gender Recognition Bill, which limits the self-declaration provision to those aged 18 and over.

Under the new law, 16 and 17-year-olds will be required to obtain a court order and testimony from a medical practitioner, in order to have their preferred gender recognised.

During today’s debate, Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout likened this to “slamming the door” on them.

It is a joyous day for adults, but there are children whom I have met and to whom we have said: “Go sit in the corner; we are not ready to deal with this yet.”In fact, we have slammed the door.

Despite TENI’s warm welcome for the passage of the bill, its chair Sara Phillips said the legislation was “not perfect”, owing to its exclusion of “those under 18, non-binary people and people with an intersex condition.”

Read: The Irish state will now accept trans people’s own declaration of their gender>

Read: ‘Nobody should be forced to get a divorce to have their gender recognised’>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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