According to a poll by the Sunday Times, more than half of Irish people believe that people under the age of 18 should not be allowed to change their gender, regardless of parental consent.
The newspaper’s Behaviour & Attitudes poll revealed that 54% of people asked disagreed that trans people under the age of 18 should be allowed to seek treatment, while 29% said they thought they should, and the rest said they didn’t know or had no opinion on the issue.
Chief Executive Officer of LGBT+ charity Belong To, Moninne Griffith, said that the results could be seen as hopeful, but voters may have been confused as to the different types of gender change.
She said, “It sounds like quite a number of people are supportive while many don’t know. When you take in the margin of error, it’s close.
“I would be very hopeful. It’s incumbent on organisations like Transgender Equality Network and ourselves to educate people more about what it means to be transgender.”
Meanwhile, Chief Exacutive Officer of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), Stephen O’Hare, pointed out that the poll did not explain the differences between legally and medically changing one’s gender.
O’Hare said, “I think the question is too simplistic. It doesn’t do anything to educate the public on the issue, and it is referring back to matters which were the subject of significant public consultation in 2018. Young transgender people seek only to affirm the gender they know they are in, and that is something which they work through with their families, and with support from organisations like Teni and BelongTo.”
The poll also revealed differences between the attitudes of various age group.
39% of people agreed that people under 18 years-old should be allowed to change their gender, while 19% of people over 55 felt the same.
Irish law has allowed for gender recognition for people over the age of 18 since 2015, while 16 and 17 year-olds have been allowed to change their gender only after a medical and psychiatric process.
The results of the poll come after a review by social protection minister Regina Doherty of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act. In a report, Doherty recommended extending legal gender recognition to those under 18 years of age.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said that Doherty intends to introduce legislation reflecting the results of this review in early 2019.
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