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

O'Sullivan: Five years is a long time

Dr Orlaith O’Sullivan is Communications Officer for TENI. To find out more about TENI’s work see www.teni.ie

Five years is a long time.

The world has moved on in the five years since 19 October 2007, when Mr Justice Liam McKechnie explained in no uncertain terms that the State was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and that the Irish Government needed to prioritise Gender Recognition Legislation as a matter of urgency. Five years on, it may feel like Ireland is no closer to enabling its transgender residents to access their fundamental human rights. We’re the last country in the EU to legislate. The legislative proposals that we have are deeply problematic: forcing a choice between family and identity; forcing diagnosis of mental illness in order to access a basic human right. And people with intersex conditions – as so often happens – are left out. Legislation based on current proposals would be out of date before even enacted, and would certainly be challenged in Irish and European courts. A progress report on Ireland’s gender recognition legislation can make for pretty bleak reading.

Yet despite the feeling of stagnancy, there has been tremendous change in the interim. And the single most significant change in the last five years is us. Trans activism has grown from its core of peer trans support – patiently, stubbornly, indefatigably – spreading the word that trans rights are human rights, plain and simple. In 2005 a small group of activists sat together in a living room in Dublin and dared to imagine a national trans advocacy organisation for Ireland. In 2012, their vision is a vibrant, thriving reality.

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) works day-to-day supporting individuals and families facing gender identity issues for the first time. We raise trans awareness Continue reading