Trans right groups voice 'disappointment' to Gender Recognition Act changes

The Irish Government's proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act have been criticised for excluding non-binary people and children under 16.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty speaking into a microphone, she introduced the changes to the Gender Recognition Bill.

TENI and BeLonG To have expressed ‘disappointment’ towards proposed amendments to the Gender Recognition Act as it fails to fully implement recommendations relating to children under the age of 16 and non-binary people. 

In 2015, previous Tánaiste Joan Burton signed the Commencement Order for the Gender Recognition Act, which ensured transgender people would be legally recognised as their gender. Though the legislation was a groundbreaking moment in Ireland, issues emerged relating to children under the age of 16 changing gender and non-binary people. 

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty established a Review Group to assess the function of the Act and subsequently develop amendments. 92 written submissions were received as part of a public consultation phase launched on January 8 2018. Findings were published in the Report on the Review of the Gender Recognition Act.

In response to the Review Group’s recommendations, the Irish Government has proposed a set of changes, which involves simplifying the path to legal gender recognition for children aged 16/17 but rejected plans to implement changes relating to children under 16. 

Following the announcement of legislative amendments, TENI and BeLonG To stated, “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.”

TENI and BeLonG To further stated that the proposed changes mark “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.”

Regarding the recognition of non-binary identities, an interdepartmental group was set up with the aim of submitting a report for consideration by the end of 2020. TENI and BeLonG To said, “Today’s announcement delays the inclusion of legal gender recognition for what is an indeterminable time period.”

Under the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, children aged 16 and 17 seeking gender recognition will be done through an arrangement for self-declaration, which requires parental consent, will involve a simple revocation process, and provides a family mediation support on a voluntary basis. 

This Is Me released the following statement in response to the proposals, “Although we welcome the proposed change of a clearer pathway to legal gender recognition for 16 and 17 year olds, we utterly condemn the government’s rejection of the numerous proposals of change to the Act.”

The release further states, “We consider this latest development a massive missed opportunity by our government and are doubting their commitment to providing equal rights and recognition to transgender people in Ireland.” 

Proposed legislative recommendations have also sought to ensure Irish citizens born outside or living outside the State, including Northern Ireland, are allowed to apply for a gender recognition certificate. Other recommendations will be implemented under Ireland’s National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy 2019-2021.

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