Diagnosis for Human Rights?

Human Rights in Ireland is pleased to welcome this guest post from Ben Power. Ben is the Board and Company Secretary for Transgender Equality Network Ireland. For more information on TENI’s work see www.teni.ie

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) is Ireland’s national trans organisation. We seek to improve conditions and advance the human rights and equality of trans people and their families. We are dedicated to ending transphobia, including stigma, discrimination and inequality. As part of this, one of the most important campaigns we are currently working on is the introduction of fully inclusive Gender Recognition Legislation. This provides a process enabling trans people to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender and allows for the acquisition of a new birth certificate that reflects this change. The introduction of legislation will make it easier for trans people in Ireland to lead safe, healthy and integrated lives.  Legislation has been proposed, however, much of it is restrictive and would infringe on the rights and privacy of trans people. In October 2012, a blog carnival to mark the 5th anniversary of Dr Foy’s victory  in the High Court was used to highlight the issues with the proposed legislation. Read it here.

So why does Gender Recognition Matter so much? What makes it so important?

There are many situations in an individual’s life where they are required to present a birth certificate in order to obtain their legal entitlements. For a transgender person this poses some complications. When the name and gender on your birth certificate is vastly different from the name you currently use and how you present your gender, questions will always be asked and this invariably leads to an awkward explanation forcing the trans person to “out” themselves, Continue reading

Ni Mhuirthile on Depathologising Gender Identity

Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile is a Senior Lecturer at Griffith College Dublin, a board member of Transgender Equality Ireland and legal consultant to IntersexUK. Human Rights in Ireland would like to thank Tanya for organising this blog carnival today, and to all the contributors for their contributions, exactly five years on from the delivery of the Foy decision

The introduction of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (UKGRA) in the UK was universally heralded as the most progressive step towards ensuring equality for trans people. According to Sandland it ‘intentionally or otherwise, interrupts the orthodoxies of gender that the law has peddled to a greater extent than any other development in recent times’. Trans activists commended the GRA for going further than the requirements laid down by the European Court of Human Rights, in that it will recognise a person’s preferred gender without insisting that the individual in question has undergone sexual reassignment surgery or indeed any other form of treatment.

The main reason for the almost universal acclaim for this Act is the apparent dispensing with the need for any medical or surgical intervention to ground a claim for recognition. Effectively, all that is required is a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. There is no mention of treatment, whether surgical or medical, as pre-requisite to recognition. Rather according to s3(3) any applicant who has undergone some form of treatment, where that is not mentioned in the required reports, is not eligible for recognition. This severing of recognition from necessary bodily modification ensures that those who, for whatever reason, are unable to undergo surgery will not be frustrated in their attempts to exercise this right to recognition.

This was a revolutionary legislative scheme. It was the first such scheme which did not require that a person have completed gender reassignment surgery including sterilisation prior to recognition. This was welcomed, as in reality gender reassignment surgery Continue reading