Dr Lydia Foy Wins European Citizens Award

Activist Dr Lydia Foy was nominated by Sinn Fein MEPs for the European Citizens Award for 2015.

Image of Dr Lydia Foy

Dr LydiaFoy has been honoured by the European Parliament, having been nominated by Sinn Fein MEPs for the European Citizens Award for 2015. This makes her the only Irish recipient of the award. The honour comes on the same day that Foy received her birth certificate. With the final barrier to recognition of her gender removed earlier this month, this new birth certificate gives Dr Foy full recognition in Ireland for the first time. This conclusively ends her 22-year legal battle, which she started in 1997 when she approached legal rights organisation FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) for help.

Today, Dr Foy has accepted a Medal of Honour from the Parliament presented by the Sinn Fein MEPs at a Dublin ceremony. She will be honoured at a ceremony in Brussels next month.

“This is a great day for me and for the trans community in Ireland,” Dr Lydia Foy says. “With this piece of paper and after 22 years of struggle, my country has finally recognised me for who I really am, not for what other people think I should be.  I am especially pleased for young trans people – that they will not have to go through the pain, the isolation, the lack of understanding and the abuse that my generation had to endure.

“I am deeply honoured to be given the Medal of Honour by the European Parliament and I regard it as a tribute to all those who have helped us to become equal citizens of this State. I would also like to thank MEPs Martina Anderson, Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy and Liadh Ni Riada who proposed me for this honour.

“I would like to thank FLAC which has represented me throughout my legal battle and TENI who have been a great support to me in more recent years. I also thank Ministers Joan Burton and Kevin Humphreys who carried through the Gender Recognition Act, and all the TDs and Senators right across the political spectrum who helped to ensure that the Act was passed and that it became one of the most progressive transgender laws in Europe.”

Michael Farrell, FLAC Senior Solicitor, paid tribute to several generations of FLAC lawyers, staff and interns who helped Dr Foy to fight her legal battle and to TENI and all the Trans activists who had fought so hard for Trans rights and for a comprehensive and inclusive Gender Recognition Act.

“Without Lydia there would be no Gender Recognition Act,” he says.  “And without her long and painful struggle, another generation of transgender people would have to endure the hardship, fear and lack of understanding that Lydia’s generation experienced before they could be recognised and respected as equal citizens in this country.”

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