Words: Ellen Kenny
Following a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, the Government will begin researching how gender recognition should be provided for transgender people under 16.
The original 2015 Act allows adults to be legally recognised as their self-declared gender. The Act also allows 16 and 17 year olds to self-identify following a rigid evaluation process and parental consent.
A 2018 review of the Act recommended that mechanisms be put in place to recognise trans people under 16. The review stated that “a system of gender recognition should be introduced for children of any age” where there is parental consent.
It recommended mechanisms in cases where parental consent is not given or if it is not safe to seek parental consent.
The review also suggested that transgender people should be allowed to apply to the Department of Social Protection without going to court or seeking medical diagnoses.
The 2020 programme for government committed to researching this issue and they are now set to begin their research two years later.
The Departments of Children and Social Protection is seeking research into how other governments have approached gender recognition of minors.
A key part of the research will focus on the consequences of “providing and of not providing recognition of children who are under 16 years old”.
The research will examine the best way to legally recognise the gender of minors. It will consider if this should include family courts, tribunals, or a panel of experts. It will also consider the most appropriate support to offer minors undergoing the process of legally changing their gender.
The Government will spend roughly 40,000 euro on this project, which is expected to take about seven months. The final report will be written in plain English “to ensure accessibility to a wide audience”.
According to reports from the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), the Crumlin Hospital gender identity services no longer takes referrals. It had a three-year waiting lists prior to this.
TENI reported that transgender children are now being referred to a psychological evaluation service “which does not currently exist.” While a December 2020 report recommended the introduction of this support service for minors, it has not actually been introduced yet.
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