A bill launched today aims to legislate finally for the Legal Recognition of Gender in Ireland. On the initiative of Senator Katherine Zappone and co-sponsored by Senators Jillian Van Turnhout and Fiach MacConghail, the Bill proposes a process whereby transgender people can apply to have their gender recognised by the State.
Ireland is obliged to provide for such a mechanism in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, following the 2007 High Court decision in the case of Dr Lydia Foy.
Senator Zappone said, “I am delighted to have the support of the transgender community for this Bill. Lydia Foy bravely took the legal route, won her case but has been waiting 6 years for a gender recognition law. We cannot delay any longer.”
Human rights organisations and community groups including Amnesty International, FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centre), Belongto Youth Services and Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) have expressed their support, taking part in a press conference to launch the Bill this afternoon.
Following the recent passage of recognition legislation by the Maltese government, Ireland has the dubious honour of being the only EU country that does not recognise legally transgender citizens in their true gender. “This Bill is in line with international best practice in this area. Current Government proposals are outdated and do not respect the dignity of the person,” commented Senator Zappone.
A number of transgender people and their families also addressed the press conference, speaking about how their lives have been affected by the lack of gender recognition legislation. Transgender woman and chair of Transgender Equality Network Ireland, Sara Philips said, "Trans people struggle through their daily lives, constantly fighting a society that finds it ok to poke fun, deny their privacy, a government that sometimes denies their right to travel, making it difficult to apply for a college place and harder to find or keep a job. We welcome Senator Zappone's bill as it will go a long way to improving daily lives for trans people in Ireland".
“A grassroots movement has built up around this issue. There are people up and down the country waiting for this legislation. This delay affects their lives on a daily basis and this is why I have brought forward this Bill,” concluded Senator Zappone.
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1. The Legal Recognition of Gender Bill press conference will take place in the Georgian Suite of Buswell’s Hotel on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 1pm.
2. There will be a photocall at 12:45pm at Buswell’s Hotel before the press conference –Senator Zappone’s office will release photos for free reproduction on Tuesday afternoon here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/senatorkatherinezappone/
3. Note to photo editors that because of the particular sensitivities related to this issue and the young people who are talking part in the press conference we would ask that no photographs of the audience be taken without prior permission. Photographs of the top table are welcome.
4. Copies of the Bill will be available at this press conference. The Senator's Bill secures to people who are transgender or intersex the dignity of being treated in law as a person of the gender with which they identify. The Bill provides for a simple administrative process in which a person applies to the Registrar General for recognition of their preferred gender. The Registrar General will then enter a note on the Register of Births that the Gender Recognition Register should be consulted for details about the person and that all birth certificates issued after the recognition process will reflect the preferred gender of the applicant. There is no requirement for applicants to be single or for married applicants to divorce their spouse as is the case under current government proposals.
5. Senator Katherine Zappone’s recent press releases are available at http://senatorkatherinezappone.ie/index.php/list/media.
6. FLAC has a briefing note on the Lydia Foy case available to download at http://www.flac.ie/publications/foy-case-briefing-note-feb-2013/
7. Individuals available for media interviews at the press conference include:
• Independent Senator Katherine Zappone.
• Sam Blanckensee, a 19 year old transgender student. Simon Blanckensee, Sam’s father and member of TransparenCI a support group for the parents of transgender young people.
• Ash, a 15 year old transgender boy and his mother, Martina, who are willing to speak to the print media on a first-name basis only.
• Michael Farrell, FLAC Senior Solicitor, who represents Lydia Foy in her case.
• Broden Giambrone, Director of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)
• Colm O’Gorman, CEO, Amnesty International Ireland
• Sara Philips, Chairperson of TENI and the Dublin Transgender Support Group
• Dr. Tanya Ni Mhurtaile, legal expert on gender identity and intersex issues.
• Dr. Fergus Ryan, legal expert on transgender and family law issues.