Government pledges legal recognition for transgendered people

Government pledges legal recognition for transgendered people

A transgender woman who fought a 21-year battle to have her identity formally recognised has ended her landmark legal case after a commitment from the Government to change the law.

Dentist Dr Lydia Foy has effectively succeeded in the landmark attempt to have her birth certificate changed with Gender Recognition legislation now expected next year.

The High Court heard the case was being removed from the list following a commitment from the Government that the new law would be enacted “as soon as possible”.

Rights group the Free Legal Advice Centre (Flac) confirmed Dr Foy would be able to obtain a birth certificate reflecting her female gender as soon as the law was in force.

Flac senior solicitor Michael Farrell said: “This was a welcome, if overdue, conclusion to 17 years of litigation by Dr Foy just to get herself recognised in the gender she has lived in every day for the last 24 years.”

The decision is also a major step forward for the transgender community, who have been waiting for legal recognition for many years.

Dr Foy was said to be very pleased with the assurances from the Government.

She launched a fresh legal challenge for a new birth certificate recognising her female gender in February last year.

Five years earlier she won a High Court case which found the State had violated her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights but no new laws were introduced in the meantime despite the State dropping a planned appeal.

Dr Foy first applied for a new birth certificate in 1993 and in 1997 she first began legal proceedings to secure recognition of her acquired gender.

The Department of Social Protection gave assurances last year that it was working on developing the first stage of legislation for gender recognition.

The Gender Recognition Bill is expected to be published by the end of the year and Dr Foy’s case is to be mentioned in the High Court next January, after the draft legislation is published.

Broden Giambrone, director of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (Teni), said: “The transgender community and Lydia Foy have been waiting a long time for this. But it's also an opportunity for us to focus on the quality and content of the legislation.

“It’s positive in a lot of ways. It includes provisions for 16 and 17-year-olds but there are still restrictive criteria. There’s no point in legislating in the past.”

Teni called for the legislation to include the statutory right to self determination rather than being subject to a medical diagnosis.

“It’s about people, trans people, being able to self-identify as opposed to having a third party say you are who you say you are. You shouldn’t need a medical diagnosis to prove you are who you are,” Mr Giambrone said.

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