Transgender woman to sue over birth certificate delay
Lydia Foy, a transgender woman reopening her case against the State for gender recognition, six years after the High Court ruled in her favour. photograph: dylan vaughan
Dr Lydia Foy, the transgender woman who won a landmark High Court case for gender recognition in 2007, has issued new proceedings against the State as she remains unable to get a birth certificate indicating she is a woman.
Dr Foy, supported by the Free Legal Advice Centres, served the plenary summons against the Minister for Social Protection, Ireland and the Attorney General on the Chief State Solicitor on Monday
“I think it’s beyond belief that the State still hasn’t changed the law,” said Dr Foy at her home in Athy, Co Kildare, yesterday.
“You’d imagine they’d have dived in to fix this up. Not a huge number of people would be affected and it’s a matter of human rights.”
The High Court ruled in October 2007 that Irish law was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for refusing to recognise the acquired gender of transgender people. The State moved to appeal to the Supreme Court but withdrew this in June 2010.
Since then successive Governments have promised to introduce legislation to allow transgender people to get new birth certificates.
Dr Foy was registered as Donal Mark Foy at birth. She married and had two daughters, but struggled with her gender, attempting suicide and spending time in psychiatric care.
She was diagnosed with gender identity disorder by doctors in Britain. She and her then wife separated in 1991 and she underwent gender realignment surgery in Britain in 1992. She was to lose her job as a dentist as well as access to her daughters following the surgery.
In March 1993 she applied for a new birth certificate reflecting her female identity, was refused and began legal proceedings in 1997.
Though the High Court initially ruled against her in 2002 it made its groundbreaking ruling in her favour five years later.
Ireland is now the only state in Europe still in breach of the Convention on Human Rights on the issue.
Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, said on a number of occasions legislation was a “priority”. Last September she promised its publication “within weeks”.
A spokeswoman for the department said the “formal opinion of the Attorney General was received . . . in December 2012 and is currently under consideration”. The continued refusal by the State to recognise who she is is “very much a source of distress,” says Dr Foy. “It’s a constant insult. I’ve been very alone, very badly treated along the way.”
Winning the recognition that can only come with a birth certificate that accurately reflects who she is has only become more important. “Losing my family and my job seemed the worst, most important issues in the past. But I see everything flows from your identity. Being accepted for who I am is the most important thing. I would like to see this wrong put right as quickly and with as much dignity as possible.”