BeLonG To & TENI response to the Report on the Review of the Gender Recognition Act

Friday, November 29th, 2019

BeLonG To Youth Services and TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) welcome the publication of Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty’s, Report on the Review of the Gender Recognition Act today. This report sets out some key amendments to the Act that will improve the lives of trans people in Ireland.

While welcoming the proposed amendments, we are deeply disappointed that the Government did not take this opportunity to implement all the recommendations in the Review Report furnished to  Minister Doherty in June 2018.

Ireland has been a global leader in terms of trans rights since the enactment of progressive Gender Recognition legislation in 2015. Today’s news marks a missed opportunity for Ireland to continue to set the highest standard in human rights, with legislation that recognises and protects the human rights and equality of every citizen, irrespective of age or gender identity.

Addressing the lack of gender recognition for young people under the age of 16, remains of great urgency.

As outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the rights of the child as set out in Article 42A.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann, the best interests of the child should be of paramount concern. Trans young people and their families tell us how vital it is to their everyday lives, to have access to legal documents that reflect their true gender. This includes a passport, birth certificate and other official records.

Research clearly shows that this lack of recognition severely increases levels of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.  For young people, who are already at a high risk of challenges to their mental health due to stigma, bullying and fear of rejection, the risk of suicidal ideation and self-harm cannot be over looked.

The rights of non-binary individuals have been inexplicably delayed and therefore denied.

Despite the recommendation of the review group in setting out the principal of rights for non-binary individuals, today’s announcement delays the inclusion of legal gender recognition for what is an indeterminable time period. This has the effect of denying the rights and facilitating the mis-gendering of persons whose gender does not conform to the gender binary and who wish to secure legal recognition of a change of gender. Families, schools and medical professionals across Ireland are already offering care to transgender and non-binary individuals, we need the Government to show the same commitment.

These facts were presented to the Government by the review group as part of the ‘Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015’, following an extensive consultation process with 92 groups, individuals, legal and medical experts, the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, trans young people and their parents. We welcome the Ministers commitment to establish an inter departmental working group to ensure inclusion in the future.

It is important to acknowledge and welcome a number of administrative recommendations which are planned to be implemented. These include a simplified pathway to gender recognition for 16 and 17 year olds (with parental consent) and the extension of the application process for a gender recognition certificate to Irish citizens born in Northern Ireland.

We welcome the inclusion of a 2-year review period and that Minister Doherty and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, have agreed to fund further research into the lives of trans young people under the age of 16. We are hopeful that this research will strengthen the existing evidence and speak to the urgent need to provide gender recognition for under 16s.

Today, we call on the Government to listen to and act on the lived experiences of the trans community and the expertise of this robust consultation process. We urge them to take action to address these serious shortcomings that impact the everyday lives of the trans community.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Available for interview:

Moninne Griffith,                                                             Sara Philips

CEO, BeLonG To Youth Services                                 Chair, TENI

087 768 0389                                                                      087 6613 127

sinead@belongto.org                                                    sara@teni.ie

  • BeLonG To Youth Services is a national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBTI+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTI+ people and offers a specialised LGBTI+ youth service including crisis counselling, information and the provision of LGBTI+ youth groups across Ireland.

 

  • TENI is a non-profit, member-driven organisation. Our Vision is an Ireland where trans people are understood, accepted and respected, and can participate fully in all aspects of Irish society. Ireland remains a place where it can be difficult for trans people to lead safe, healthy and full lives. TENI is dedicated to ending transphobia, including stigma, discrimination and inequality by promoting the human rights of all trans people.