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Transgender woman to sue over birth certificate delay


Dr Lydia Foy, the transgender woman who won a landmark High Court case for gender recognition in 2007, has issued new proceedings against the State as she remains unable to get a birth certificate indicating she is a woman.

Dr Foy, supported by the Free Legal Advice Centres, served the plenary summons against the Minister for Social Protection, Ireland and the Attorney General on the Chief State Solicitor on Monday

“I think it’s beyond belief that the State still hasn’t changed the law,” said Dr Foy at her home in Athy, Co Kildare, yesterday.

“You’d imagine they’d have dived in to fix this up. Not a huge number of people would be affected and it’s a matter of human rights.”

The High Court ruled in October 2007 that Irish law was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for refusing to recognise the acquired gender of transgender people.

The State moved to appeal to the Supreme Court but withdrew this in June 2010.

Since then successive Governments have promised to introduce legislation to allow transgender people to get new birth certificates.

Gender identity

Dr Foy was registered as Donal Mark Foy at birth. She married and had two daughters, but struggled with her gender, attempting suicide and spending time in psychiatric care.

She was diagnosed with gender identity disorder by doctors in Britain.

She and her then wife separated in 1991 and she underwent gender realignment surgery in Britain in 1992. She was to lose her job as a dentist as well as access to her daughters following the surgery.

In March 1993 she applied for a new birth certificate reflecting her female identity, was refused and began legal proceedings in 1997.

Though the High Court initially ruled against her in 2002 it made its groundbreaking ruling in her favour five years later.

Ireland is now the only state in Europe still in breach of the Convention on Human Rights on the issue.

Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, said on a number of occasions legislation was a “priority”. Last September she promised its publication “within weeks”.

A spokeswoman for the department said the “formal opinion of the Attorney General was received . . . in December 2012 and is currently under consideration”.

The continued refusal by the State to recognise who she is is “very much a source of distress,” says Dr Foy. “It’s a constant insult. I’ve been very alone, very badly treated along the way.”

Recognition

Winning the recognition that can only come with a birth certificate that accurately reflects who she is has only become more important.

“Losing my family and my job seemed the worst, most important issues in the past. But I see everything flows from your identity. Being accepted for who I am is the most important thing. I would like to see this wrong put right as quickly and with as much dignity as possible.”

via Clerical Whispers.

via Clerical Whispers.

Ireland’s first ever public transgender rally to take place today


Supporters of TEA

Up to 300 people are expected to attend Ireland’s first public transgender rally outside the Dáil later today.

Activists want to raise awareness that being transgender is still classified as a mental disorder, and not an identity as they believe.

A spokesperson for one of the group’s involved, Trans Education and Advocacy, told TheJournal.ie that the the people attending the Rally for Recognition will be urging politicians to introduce inclusive and respectful Gender Recognition legislation that will not enshrine pathologisation of trans identities into Irish law.

A report by a government advisory committee passed to Social Protection Minister Joan Burton recently outlined recommendations for legislation to allow transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate but only if they fulfil the medical criteria of a Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis or present evidence of reassignment surgery.

If pushed through, the move would set Ireland two steps back from international best practice on what has been described as a human rights issue.

“Currently many countries are fighting to remove that clause from their gender recognition legislation but Ireland is considering putting it in,” said Leslie Sherlock. “As it is, Ireland is one of the last countries in Europe to get gender recognition laws.

“The identity of trans people is really problematic and we see it as a human rights issue.

It is like being gay, which is not an illness or a mental disorder. That is why we are fighting for its depathologisation.

“We would argue that although it can still be a medical condition, it is not a mental illness.”

Argentina has been cited as a country to emulate when it comes to transgender issues.

In the South American nation, trans people can change the gender marker on their birth certificate by simply signing an affidavit.

“That is all that should be required,” remarked Sherlock. “There is enough stigma attached to the identity without having more enforced by the State’s unnecessary legal hoops.”

There should also be a separation of the legal and medical issues, according to TEA.

Organiser Cat McIlroy added,“Although the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities have experienced significant progress in Irish legal and social spheres, trans people have been left behind.

Our main goal is to provide a space for trans people and allies to be visible and engage in action that will empower them to speak out about the right of trans people to be recognised without pathologisation or further delay by the Irish State.

Today’s demonstration, due to begin at 2.30pm, has been organised to mark International Day of Action for Trans Depathologisation. Activists from across Europe will be in attendance at the event coincides with the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) annual conference which is taking place in Dublin.

via Ireland’s first ever public transgender rally to take place today.

via Ireland’s first ever public transgender rally to take place today.

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