Gender recognition certificate scheme may be expanded to children

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There have been 230 “gender recognition certificates” granted to people in less than two years — and now the Government is considering the expansion of the scheme to children.

Commenced in September 2015, the Gender Recognition Act provides for the preferred gender of a person to be fully recognised by the State for all purposes.

Dr Lydia Foy, a long term advocate who has lived as a woman since 1991, became the first person to be legally recognised by the Act.

An applicant who has reached 18 years of age can apply for a gender recognition certificate by way of self-determination. Where their birth was registered in the State, they may subsequently apply for a birth certificate in their preferred name and/or gender.

Teenagers between 16-18 have to apply to the courts through a parent or “next friend” for an exemption from the requirement to be over 18 years.

In that case the court application has to be accompanied by a certificate from the applicant’s treating endocrinologist or psychiatrist and also a certificate from an endocrinologist or psychiatrist who has no connection with the child.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said that provision was included so as to balance the rights of children with the need to protect their interests at a vulnerable age.

At present there is no provision in the Act for children under the age of 16 to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

However, that could change. After the enactment of the legislation, Leo Varadkar wrote to Minister for Children Katherine Zappone asking her department to carry out research in the area of gender recognition for children to inform policy in the future.

Her department has been carrying out a consultation process with the relevant organisations on the issue.

Mr Varadkar said the original act had provided for a review of its operation.

“The review is due to begin in September 2017 and will include in its terms of reference the issue of gender recognition for children,” he said.

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