Have your say on changes to the Gender Recognition Act
I am very pleased that the review of the Gender Recognition Act is underway and to announce the call for submissions under the consultation process. This process is a key element of the review and I am keen to have the broadest possible level of consultation. I particularly want to hear the voices of young people on this issue.
We don’t know how many people in the Meath area are transgender, or who identify as neither male nor female. But we do know that every community – from the largest cities to the smallest parishes – has residents who do not fit into the traditional male/female classifications. The review of the Gender Recognition Act is intended to take another look at ways to help teenagers in this grouping, as well as their families and friends. This will directly benefit children and their families across Co. Meath. It’s all part of making Ireland a more equal society, and removing the barriers that prevent people reaching their potential and playing a full role in the economic and social activities in our society.
Helping people to legally change their gender
The purpose of the Gender Recognition Act is to allow a person to legally change gender and it provides for the preferred gender of a person to be fully recognised by the State for all purposes. An applicant who has attained the age of 18 years may apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate by way of self-determination. A person aged 16 or 17 may apply to the court (through a parent or next friend) for an exemption from the standard requirement of a minimum age for gender recognition of 18 years.
Section 7 of the Act provides that the Minister for Social Protection shall carry out a review of the operation of the Act. I recently appointed a Review Group chaired by Moninne Griffith (Executive Director, BeLonG To) which includes representation from the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland (TENI), other independent experts in the field and Government bodies with an interest in this area. The Review Group is due to submit its report to me in May of this year.
Open for submissions
Submissions are now invited, from interested individuals and organisations, on the current operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 and in relation to possible future operational and policy considerations. Reflecting the terms of reference of the review group, those wishing to make a submission should do so under the following headings:
(a) Arrangements for children aged 16 to 17 years;
(b) Arrangements for children aged under 16 years;
(c) Arrangements for persons who identify as neither male nor female (e.g. non-binary);
(d) Arrangements for intersex people;
(e) Any other relevant issues, including issues relating to the operation of the current legislative provisions.
How to make a submission
Submissions may be made via email to: GRA2015Review@welfare.ie (with the word “Submission” in the Subject line), or by post to: GRA2015 Review (Submission), GRO Policy Unit, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Floor 1, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1, D01 WY03.
Submissions should be returned not later than 5 February 2018 and should include the full name and address of the person making the submission and, where relevant, the name of the body or organisation represented.
All submissions will be acknowledged and will be considered by the Review Group. The group will report to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection on the consultation process. Those who make submissions may be invited to meet with representatives of the Review Group.
It should be noted that submissions received, and reports of any further consultations undertaken with any parties in response to this request, will be subject to Freedom of Information legislation and may be published on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website.
A copy of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 is available here: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2015/act/25/enacted/en/html
Further information including information relating to the application process and copies of annual reports, is available on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s website here: http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Gender-Recognition.aspx