Access to Gender Recognition for Young Transgender and Non-Binary People

Access to Gender Recognition for Young Transgender and Non-Binary People

BeLonG To Welcomes the Report from the Review of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The process of gender recognition for under 18’s is poised for historical reform with recommendations made as part of the Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015. BeLonG To Youth Services1 welcomes these recommendations including a simplified administrative process for legal gender recognition of children of any age with parental consent, and legal recognition for individuals who are non-binary or intersex.

Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD commissioned the review of the 2015 legislation, which currently enables a person, aged 18 or over, to have their preferred gender recognised in law, based on self- declaration. Once a gender recognition certificate is issued, the person’s preferred gender becomes the legal gender for all purposes, including documents such as birth certificates and passports.

Moninne Griffith, Executive Director of BeLonG To discussed the impact of legal gender recognition for transgender, non-binary, and intersex young people in Ireland:

The implementation of the report’s recommendations would change the lives of trans, non-binary and intersex young people across Ireland. It would send a strong message that they are visible, valued and included in Irish society.  Trans young people and their families tell us how vital it is to their everyday lives to have access to legal documents that reflects their true gender such as passports, birth certificates and other official records. Basing legislation on self-determination reflects that this is a legal process and therefore there is no requirement for medical experts, medical treatments or diagnosis of a mental disorder for individuals to be legally recognised.

Young trans people do not just wake up one morning and decide that they want to change their legal gender. This happens after a period of social transition, living in their preferred gender. What is clear from the young trans and non-binary people that we work with is, however is that having access to legal gender recognition will have a hugely positive impact on their lives, self-esteem, self-worth, and well-being.

The 2016 LGBTIreland2 report found that 1 in 4 transgender and intersex people have been punched, hit or physically attacked in public. Attacks such as these, and other violent acts, are sadly also still happening in our schools1. The most worrying accounts are about the impacts these challenges have on our young people. Severe mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as self-harm and suicidal ideation, are frequently part of transgender young peoples’ lives.

Some 92 groups submitted to the consultation process including 50 transgender and non-binary youth members of BeLonG To who engaged in a yearlong consultation process3.

Lisa McKenny, Youth Worker, BeLonG To Youth Services reflects on this process:

Working as Youth Worker has taught me that life for young transgender and non-binary people in Ireland can be incredibly difficult. This is due to the lack of visibility, awareness and understanding about what it means to be transgender or non-binary. Every day, I hear from young people, parents, and teachers about these challenges including not being allowed to use their preferred name or pronoun at home or in school, not being able to access appropriate healthcare and support (including mental healthcare), and not being able to legally change their name or gender markers, forcing them to come out against their will. Listening to the voices of the young people at BeLonG To emphasises the growing need for simple, easy-to- access legal gender recognition without financial barriers in order to truly support them as they journey to their true gender identity.

Ends

 

Notes to editors:

To arrange an interview please contact Michelle Thomas, 086 242 6733 michelle.thomas@michcom.ie

 

Notes:

1 BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBTI+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation also advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTI+ people, and offers a specialised LGBTI+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol outreach. www.belongto.org

2 The LGBTIreland Report national study of the mental health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Ireland. (2016)

3 Some 50 young transgender and non-binary people at BeLonG To engaged in a year long consultation process and submitted their recommendations to the Gender Recognition Review Working Group.

http://www.welfare.ie/en/downloads/GRA%20Review%20Report.pdf