How are transgender people treated in Ireland?
In 2002, Dr. Lydia Foy filled a case to the High Court of Ireland in order to legally change the sex on her birth certificate from “male” to “female” and her name from Donal to Lydia. She identified more as a woman than a man and since early childhood had experienced “gender dysphoria” which means she was biologically male but physiologically female. She wanted her legal documents to reflect her identification as well. By 2007 with deliberations, the High Court decided that the State had violated part of an article in the European Convention for Human Rights by denying her request to change her gender on her legal documentation (Foy, 2007). In 2015, the Gender Recognition Act required the recognition of self proclaimed preferred genders and indirectly lead to the creation of Gender Recognition Group which dealt with issues such as gender recognition in minors from 16-17 years old (Dunne, 2017).
Transgender people in Ireland have just recently obtained legal rights for their identification. Not being legally allowed to identify as the gender you prefer has broad implications for overall mental health as well as physical health as well. A recent study that sent a questionnaire out found that 64% of transgender people that responded viewed mental health professionals unequipped to deal with LGBT problems, leaving transgender people feeling more marginalized and left out of society. Additionally, 43% found that medical staff were unresponsive to their needs (McCann et al., 2017). Transgender people usually feel marginalized by traditional views of sex and gender and thus already may feel as if they are not being treated the same as people who identify as the biological sex they were born as.
Another facet of the transgender community is the youth. 16 and 17 year olds that identify as the opposite gender have very few options, if any, in terms of changing their legal identification. A couple cases have been seen where minors were legally allowed to change their gender but they are few are far between due to the fact that both parents and multiple doctors of different specialties approval is required. The 2015 Gender Recognition Act denies changes to minors 15 and younger stating the possibility that a minor will undergo these changes and then a couple years down the road regret it. It is argued that because of the “fluctuating nature of gender in youth” minors are more likely to change their minds about the transition. Most of this is in the best interest of the children in order to prevent unnecessary surgeries and legal paperwork (Dunne, 2017). However, this may lead to a negative impact on minors who really do identify as the opposite gender when they have to go through their teen years as a gender they do not identify or feel comfortable as.
Legal battles and resolutions do not equal equality and necessarily acceptance in a society, however, they are the first step in the right direction. The transgender population is generally small but this does not mean insignificant and not worthy of legal rights. A person’s ability to feel comfortable in their own skin is one of the most basic human rights that should be given to a person. Therefore, although Ireland has just recently made moves to increase equality to non-cis-gendered people there is still a long way to go before it is completely integrated into the society.
Dunne, Peter. “Transgender Rights in the United Kingdom and Ireland: Reviewing Gender Recognition Rules.” University of Bristol Law School , University of Bristol Law School, 20 Nov. 2017, legalresearch.blogs.bris.ac.uk/2017/11/transgender-rights-in-the-united-kingdom-and-ireland-reviewing-gender-recognition-rules/.
“Foy -v- An t-Ard Chláraitheoir & Ors.” Jones v National Coal Board  EWCA Civ 3 (17 April 1957), High Court of Ireland Decisions, 19 Oct. 2007, www.bailii.org/ie/cases/IEHC/2007/H470.html.
McCann, Edward, and Danika Sharek. “Survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People’s Experiences of Mental Health Services in Ireland.” Freshwater Biology, Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 8 Mar. 2013, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/inm.12018.