Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout has described the exclusion of children from the Gender Recognition Bill 2014 as “fundamentally wrong”.
Ireland’s Gender Recognition Bill will no longer make it necessary for trans people over the age of 18 to have medical or psychological testimony to legally change their gender. The amendment to the bill will only require the self-declaration of the person, instead of a certificate from a medical practitioner. However, these landmark amendments do not apply to those under 18.
In a press release she posted on Twitter this morning, the senator said, “There are few groups in Ireland more vulnerable than our transgender (trans) children and young people. We don’t know exactly how many trans children we have in Ireland but we do have compelling anecdotal evidence from the groups supporting them that their number is significant; they live all around Ireland; there has been a notable increase in the numbers of trans children and their families contacting support groups for advice over the last 12-18 months; and in LGBT awareness training in schools the vast majority of teachers have questions around trans issues and trans identification.
“It is fundamentally wrong that this Bill does not provide a mechanism for legal recognition, even on an interim basis, of gender for trans children under 16 who seek it, where there is parental consent, support of the child’s GP and agreement that this is in the best interests of the child. I tabled an amendment seeking such a compromise, an Interim Gender Recognition Certificate, at Report Stage of the Bill in the Seanad back in February.
“It is important to stress that an Interim Gender Recognition Certificate for children is completely distinct and has no bearing on any decision that might be taken by a trans person to pursue medical intervention, such as hormone replacement therapy or to undergo gender reassignment surgery at a later stage in their lives.
“I sincerely hope the Government is prepared to deal with the question of trans children in this Bill. We have this opportunity to make a massively positive impact on the lives of trans children in Ireland and to ensure, unlike too often in the past, that we are not compounding and ignoring the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.
“An Interim Gender Recognition Certificate for children would allow the rights and best interests of trans children to be promoted and protected, and for evidence gathering around models of best practice for a permanent arrangement, in the period before the issue is revisited in the two year review.
She concluded, “I cannot sit silently by as we tell trans children and young people to sit in the corner and wait for their rights to be upheld, maybe, at some point down the road.”
The necessary changes to the Gender Recognition Bill will be done by way of Committee Stage amendments in the Dáil. The legislation is scheduled to go to Committee Stage on tomorrow, June 17.
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