Legal Recognition for Transgender People


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Kevin Humphreys welcomes the passing of the Gender Recognition Bill

 

Kevin Humphreys, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection today (Wednesday, 15th July 2015) successfully steered the Gender Recognition Bill through its final stage. It has now been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and is scheduled to be signed by President Higgins within the next seven days.

The Minister said: "This is a very significant day and not just for transgender people and their families. It is also another milestone for equality in Irish society following the resounding Yes for marriage equality in May."

The Minister expressed his gratitude to all involved in progressing the Bill through both Houses of the Oireachtas over the past number of months.  "During this process it has been my privilege to meet with many representatives of the transgender community including parents and children.  These conversations have informed my thinking and, I believe, are reflected in this Bill."

There have been a number of key changes introduced in the Bill via both the initial pre-legislative scrutiny process and the subsequent debates in both Houses of the Oireachtas, including:-

  • Introducing a self-declaration model for transgender people aged 18 or over;
  • Using the term ‘preferred gender’ within the context of the Bill;
  • Providing a route to recognition for 16 to 18 year olds;
  • Providing a formal review process; and
  • Aligning legislation in relation to the issuing of passports to transgender people.

 

The Minister explained that due to cases currently with the Court of Appeal, it has not been possible to amend the Bill regarding the requirement that a person seeking gender recognition must be single.  "We are obliged to await the outcome of the Court of Appeal proceedings in relation to the result of the recent marriage equality referendum before we can legislate in this area", he stated.  However, the Minister has pledged that should the Court of Appeal uphold the result of the referendum, then the appropriate legislative changes will be included in the Marriage Bill that the Minister for Justice and Equality will be taking through the Houses of the Oireachtas.  "I am happy also to see that work is being commenced through the Department of Education and Skills to explore how transgender issues can be addressed within the schools system for the betterment and inclusion of all schoolchildren," he added.


Minister Humphreys thanked his colleagues in the Dáil and Seanad for the contributions they made during the course of the Bill.  He also acknowledged the work and commitment of the Tánaiste in advancing the Bill through its various stages in the Dáil and Seanad.  "The Tánaiste and I took on board the views of representative groups, transgender people, parents of transgender children, medical practitioners and citizens regarding the provisions contained within the Bill.  In particular, I want to thank the Tánaiste, Joan Burton for her unstinting resolve and commitment which has enabled us to progress this ground-breaking legislation through its many stages and debates since the beginning of this year.  May 22 was a historic day for marriage equality in Ireland.  The formal recognition of the identity of transgender people is a welcome development initiated by this Government.  This legislation is a further significant step towards making our society equal for everyone."

The Bill also provides for a review of the operation of the legislation to be undertaken within two years after it comes into effect. While this legislation has been needed to be put in place for a long time, it is also vital that its impact and effectiveness are carefully evaluated over time, the Minister said.

Once the Bill is signed into law by President Higgins, it will take effect by way of a commencement order.

ENDS

 

Note for Editors

Main Elements of the Gender Recognition Bill 2014

  • A person’s preferred gender will be formally and legally recognised for all purposes including communications with the State, Public Bodies and Civil and Commercial Society
  • A transgender person will be able to obtain a birth certificate showing their preferred gender
  • All rights, responsibilities and consequences of actions by a transgender person in their original gender prior to the date of recognition will remain unaffected.
Last modified:15/07/2015