Introduction To Recognition

Gender recognition legislation provides a process enabling trans people to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender and allows for the acquisition of a new birth certificate that reflects this change.

Why does Gender Recognition Legislation matter?

Trans people cannot legally change the gender on their birth certificate under any circumstance. Birth certificates are a foundational identity document and are often requested for official purposes (such as accessing social welfare, attaining a PPS number and getting married). While Ireland does, in certain cases, allow for changing gender on documents like passports and driving licences, this results in trans people having inconsistent official identification documentation. That is, a person may be recognised as one gender on certain documents and another gender on their birth certificate. The result of this can be a ‘forced outing’, where a trans person is outed as trans against their will when they apply for a job, a new passport or entry to college. Forced outing can result in harassment, discrimination and even violence.

The lack of legal recognition for trans people has also been deemed a clear human rights abuse. Presently, Ireland is the last country in the European Union that does not allow for legal recognition of trans people, despite a High Court ruling that this is incompatible with Ireland’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2009, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg stated, “There is no excuse for not immediately granting [the transgender] community their full and unconditional human rights”.

Updates on gender recognition are here

Dr Lydia Foy & Recognition Now

In March 1993 transgender woman Lydia Foy wrote to the Irish Registrar General seeking a new birth certificate showing her female gender. Her request was refused. Twenty years later she is still battling for recognition. This is despite a High Court ruling in 2007 that found the State to be in breach of its positive obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in failing to recognise Dr. Lydia Foy in her female gender and provide her with a new birth certificate. This was the first declaration of incompatibility to be made under the ECHR Act. In January 2013 Dr Foy began her third set of legal proceedings against the Irish State as part of that struggle for recognition. More information here.

In May 2010, the Government set up the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG), an inter-departmental working group “to advise the Minister for Social Protection on the legislation required to provide for legal recognition by the State of the acquired gender of transsexuals”. The GRAG received submissions from 14 organisations and 26 individuals. The final report of the government's Gender Recognition Advisory Group went before Cabinet and was publicly launched Thursday 14 July 2011. The report is available to download here.

After the GRAG report was launched TENI hosted a community forum and over 70 trans people and allies attended. The issues people raised at the Community Forum has shaped TENI's advocacy goals and lobbying efforts. TENI advocates for inclusive and progressive gender recognition legislation that will protect the human rights of trans people. You can read more about our lobbying efforts here and here.