Transgender people can now get a birth certificate which reflects their preferred gender.The new law will allow over-18s to have their preferred gender legally recognised by the State.
Tánaiste Joan Burton said it had been a hard and long battle by those in the transgender community. “I believe the legislation we have is among the most progressive in Europe,” Ms Burton said.
“This marks a hugely significant and historic day for the transgender community, for their families, friends and, indeed, for all of Irish society.”
From this week, people can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate from the Department of Social Protection.
It means the person’s preferred gender will be fully recognised by the State for all purposes, including in dealings with public bodies.
A new birth certificate can be issued to show the preferred gender and new name, if the person changes their name.
Those aged between 16 and 18 will have “a route to recognition”, which will involve an endocrinologist.
Ms Burton paid tribute to the work of Dr Lydia Foy who has fought for more than two decades to have her chosen gender recognised.
Dr Foy has lived as a woman since 1991.
In April 1997, after a number of years' unsuccessful correspondence with the Registrar General's office, Dr Foy initiated High Court proceedings to compel the Registrar to issue her with a new birth certificate.
Speaking on Tuesday, Dr Foy said this was the start of a bright new life for those caught in the trap of transgender.
She said: “I hope nobody in Ireland will have to go through such pains and such a long-winded approach to the law.
“We were getting rather impatient and Europe was looking over our shoulders as well. It is a wonderful day.”
The Dáil and Seanad approved the Gender Recognition Act 2015 in July.
Ireland is the fourth country to allow transgender people to legally change their gender without surgery and other medical interventions.
The Tánaiste said the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan will host a group in September to look at issues as they arise in education.
She added: “We have built in a review period to see if other issues arise.”