Joan Burton publishes outline of Bill to give recognition to transgender people
Issue had been ‘left unaddressed for far too long’, says Minister
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton outlines the main provisions of the Bill to give Recognition to transgender people yesterday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Transgender people could have their status recognised by this time next year following the publication of an outline of a Bill yesterday.
The legislation will give transgender people the right to new birth certificates showing their acquired gender and will allow them to marry and enter civil partnerships.
But transgender people who are already married will not be recognised, since the State’s ban on same-sex marriage would conflict with such a recognition.
Under the Bill, a person seeking recognition of their changed gender would have to apply to the Department of Social Protection with a statutory self-declaration stating they intend to live permanently in the new gender. They would also need a validation by their doctor that they have transitioned into their acquired gender.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the issue had been “left unaddressed for far too long”, referring to a 2007 High Court judgement which said Ireland was in breach of human rights obligations by not recognising transgender people.
The Bill was a welcome step since it would address the needs of hundreds of people living in a legal limbo, said Broden Giambrone, director of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland. But he was concerned at how long married transgender people would have to wait for recognition. Only a handful of people remained married after a gender transition and the Government should legislate to allow for these people, he said. He also questioned the need for a doctor’s validation since this amounted to a requirement for a “de facto diagnosis” of transgender.
Senator Katherine Zappone questioned why the department would have oversight of the recognition system and not the General Register’s Office, which usually dealt with birth certificates. “Is this some kind of layer to screen the process?” she asked. She said she would also have liked for people to be able to get recognition from 16 years of age and not 18 as allowed for under the Bill.
The Bill will go to committee stage in the autumn and will go before the Oireachtas early next year, the Minister said.