Number of gender recognition certs issued hit highest level in 2021

Since 2015, people can apply for a certificate to ensure their preferred gender is fully recognised by the State

The State approved 195 gender recognition certificates last year, the highest number in any year since the provision to legally change gender was introduced in 2015.

No applications for a certificate were refused, while one certificate was issued to a person aged between 16 and 17 years old. The remainder were issued to people over 18.

There were slightly more people changing from female to male (105) than from male to female (90).

Since the Gender Recognition Act 2015, a person can apply to the Minister for Social Protection for a gender recognition certificate, which ensures that the person’s preferred gender is fully recognised by the State.


Any person over 18 can apply for a gender recognition certificate, though there are separate arrangements for children aged 16 and 17.

There has only been one certificate refused since the introduction of the Act, which was to an adult aged over 18 in 2017.

Under the legislation, the Minister must issue an annual report; the latest was published by the Department of Social Protection on Friday night.

When a person has received a gender recognition certificate from the Department of Social Protection, they may apply to the General Register Office to be included in the register.

A birth certificate showing the new gender of the person and reflecting their new name can then be issued based on the information recorded in the register.

A total of 108 registrations were made on the register of gender recognition during 2021, none of which were in respect of children under the age of 18.

Overall, 78 per cent (or 85) registrations were for people aged between 18 and 30. Slightly more people registered as male (57) than female (51).

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued 117 passports to gender recognition certificate holders during 2021, three of which were issued to individuals aged under 18 years.

Since the commencement of the Act, 345 passports have been issued to gender recognition certificate holders, including 11 passports to holders aged under 18 years.

A review of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act was completed in 2018. Among the recommendations, the review group called for the introduction of legislation that would simplify the path to legal gender recognition for children aged 16 and 17 years.

The review group also called for legal gender recognition be extended to non-binary people.

According to the annual report, work on progressing the recommendations was paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic but recommenced in the third quarter of 2021.

By the end of last year, legislation to make changes to the application process for person aged 16 and 17 had been approved by Government and was being drafted, while departments and public bodies were asked to assess the impact of making provision for people who do not identify as male or female.

The Government is also to begin research into how gender recognition should be provided for transgender children under the age of 16, according to a recently published tender.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times