Call to legally recognise transgender under-18s

Campaign groups have called on the Government to extend legal recognition for transgender people to those under the age of 18.

The request comes on the one-year anniversary of the Gender Recognition Act commencing; the legislation allows transgender people aged 18 or over to have their gender legally recognised.

The Transgender Equality Network Ireland and national youth LGBT organisation BeLonGTo now want the legislation to be extended to those under the age of 18.

At present, those aged 16 or 17 must obtain parental consent, two medical opinions, and a court order before they can acquire legal recognition, while there are no legal routes for those under the age of 16 to obtain recognition.

“The Gender Recognition Act was an incredible step forward for the trans community in Ireland. But we’re not done. We will be actively campaigning to ensure that trans young people are protected and their rights must be enshrined,” said Moninne Griffith, the executive director of BeLonGTo.

The campaign has presented a case study from a woman named Kirsty, who detailed her son Dylan’s struggles.

Kirsty said she always assumed Dylan was a tomboy as a child.

“So when he came out in March 2015, it was a shock but we listened to him and learned from him. He was our GP’s first openly trans patient and, as a result, she had no idea about what should happen next — there are no clear pathways for our trans young people or their parents.

“For Dylan, he has to out himself almost every day, he can’t open a bank account or change his passport to reflect who he is, as his documentation doesn’t add up. It simply shouldn’t be this way.

“Dylan is happier than he has ever been, his name has been changed, he presents as himself, and his hair is short. He is turning into a very handsome young man, but he still lives in a body he hates and each day is a week long for him, waiting to access the medication that can help him feel more like the person he was born to be.”

Kirsty added: “He knows who he is and doesn’t need someone to assess him to tell him that. I’m so proud of my son and his strength to be honest with not only himself but with the world. He is amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing about him,” she said.

According to a 2016 report by LGBTIreland, a quarter of trans people have been punched, hit, or physically attacked in public, a third have had hurtful things written about them on social media, and one in five have experienced sexual violence.

A third of trans people in Ireland report that their mental health had worsened in the past five years.

More than half of transgender people fitted the criteria for some level of depression and 87% of trans people in Ireland reported feeling down or depressed at some point in their lifetime.


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