Expert advice needed on gender declaration law, says Taoiseach

Government considers changes to law surrounding age to self-declare gender

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government needed to consult young trans people and experts as it considers any changes to the law surrounding lowering the age that anyone can self-declare their gender.

At present anyone over 18 can apply to change their gender and have this legally recognised by the State.

People aged 16 and 17 can also apply but they must have the consent of a parent or guardian, and must also have a form from their doctor that certifies that, in their professional opinion, the person has the maturity and understanding to make the decision for themselves. The doctor must also certify that the person has transitioned –or is currently transitioning – their gender.

A form must also be obtained from a psychiatrist or endocrinologist certifying that they agree with the medical practitioner.


Children under the age of 16 cannot have a change in gender recognised by the State.

The programme for government pledges to remove the need for people aged 16 and 17 to have two specialist reports before they can apply for legal gender recognition. Instead they would be allowed to self-declare with parental consent.

It also commits to research to examine arrangements for children under 16.

During a pre-Christmas round-table interview, Mr Martin was asked about the lowering of the age for self-declaration and how low he thinks it should go.

“Certainly I’m supportive of and we want to deliver on the programme for government’s commitment on 16 and 17,” he said. “We do need to harness informed opinion on this and expertise in this area.

“But there are many, many young people who need our help and support out there at the moment but are not getting the level of support they need.”

Mr Martin said this was something that concerned him.

“I think we need to work harder and better at providing a more comprehensive range of supports to young people who need the back-up they are currently not getting.”

He said the Programme for government settled on 16 and 17: “We are open to informed debate on this from expertise of people who have been involved from a professional prospective. And also the views of young people themselves.

“I think we should consult young trans people to hear their views. Many have endured unacceptable bullying in certain situations.

“We need to inform their peers, the wider community in terms of the issues so there is greater acceptance and also [provide] greater support for young people who are going through challenging times.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times