Yesterday (Wednesday 3rd June), the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D. announced that, following the agreement of Cabinet, the application process under the Gender Recognition Bill will, for people aged 18 years or more, be based on the person's self-declaration by way of a statutory declaration.
The Bill will also no longer contain the controversial 'forced divorce' clause.
"TENI applauds the Government for this hugely significant move. Ireland has now taken its place as an international leader in this human rights area," said TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. "The Government has shown great vision and conviction in ensuring the rights of trans people. This legislation will significantly improve the lived realities of trans people in Ireland."
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, the Tánaiste said:
Throughout the drafting of this Bill, I have listened carefully to the views of individual citizens, representative groups and public representatives. It is essential that this important legislation is in line with international best practice. That is why we are moving to a self-declaration model for people aged 18 and over. This approach will have no impact on the treatment pathway which is completely separate from the civil registration process.
TENI Chair Sara R. Phillips spoke after the announcement:
This is a momentous moment. To be given the respect to self-determine our gender is true equality. For once I can believe our community are seen as full equal citizens. Today I am so proud of our country.
In April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a comprehensive resolution on trans human rights.
In relation to legal gender recognition, the Assembly called upon Member States to "develop quick, transparent and accessible procedures, based on self-determination." Ireland's move to adopt legislation based on self-determination means that Ireland will join Malta, Argentina and Denmark as trailblazers in the area of trans rights. "Self-determination is critical to trans people. We must be able to affirm our own identities and have our rights vindicated," Giambrone said.
The removal of the single criteria follows the passage of the Marriage Equality Referendum in Ireland.
"The removal of 'forced divorce' criteria is very welcomed. Married trans people will no longer be forced to choose between their families and their right to be legally recognised. I know this will ease the minds of families who were in this position," Giambrone said.
There will be no change in relation to the provisions for applicants aged 16-17 years. A Court process is required involving supporting medical statements before an application for a gender recognition certificate can be made. "Trans young people are still vulnerable and we will work closely with the Government to ensure that they are protected," Giambrone concluded.
The necessary changes to the Bill will be done by way of Committee Stage amendments in the Dáil. The legislation is scheduled to go to Committee Stage on 17th June.
Photo via Transgender Equality Network Ireland