The Gender Recognition Act, which celebrates it first anniversary this week, was hailed as milestone piece of legislation, and has directly significantly improved the lives of over 150 people in the year since the bill was signed into law. From a legal perspective it now means that transgender people in Ireland can have their gender markers on documents legally changed for the first time. The Bill was passed this week one year ago, following years of campaigning by various groups and individuals, notably Dr. Lydia Foy, FLAC, TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) and BelongTo. As one of only six countries in the world to have self-declaration based gender laws, Ireland allows any individual over the age of 18 to have their gender legally recognised without the need for medical experts, medical treatment or a diagnosis of a mental disorder (gender identity disorder).
Despite this major landmark in legislation the campaign continues, with groups like BelongTo specifically focusing on younger people, whom campaigners argue have been ignored and are not included in the Act. The process for young people to attain the same recognition is far more arduous, requiring them to obtain parental consent, two medical opinions and a court order; a process which could be a very lengthy & cost prohibitive. However this is even more selective, as this only applies to individuals between the ages of 16-17. For Trans people younger than 16 there are currently no pathways for legal recognition, even for those with parental consent. The difficulties this presents to young trans people are simple day-to-day things which many of us take for granted, such as traveling with a correct passport, opening a bank account or attending a school, none of which can be done in their true gender.
BelongTo is currently appealing for help to extend the legal gender recognition protection to young people, and is calling on people to aid their cause by contacting their local elected representatives about the issue, or by donating to BelongTo aid them in their campaign.
Other groups like Non-Binary+ Ireland are also campaigning to extend the legislation to include recognition for those who identify outside the gender binary, following the example of countries like Denmark, New Zealand, Australia and Nepal.