The second anniversary of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act is fast approaching. The Act was of course a major step forward for the trans people of Ireland and I’m proud to know many of those who brought this incredible piece of legislation to fruition. It allows those of us over 18 to have our gender respected with no input from any outside sources. But it does not go far enough, and the trans community is acutely aware of its failings.
Ireland now stands as one of the most inclusive countries on earth for our trans community. We’ve been accepted wholeheartedly by the Irish people and I truly believe, despite some negative views still being out there, on a whole they want us to succeed and be happy. The Irish spirit is increasingly focused on each individual being given the right to be themselves and this has proven to be a huge benefit to trans people.
But we must continue to move forward. It’s important to note the issues with the legislation and ensure it protects all of those within our community. When marriage equality was introduced, we opened marriage to everyone. Whether you were gay, lesbian, pan, bi, queer or straight, marriage now belonged to you. Unfortunately, gender recognition has not gone quite so far.
In March, Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield launched his Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017. This Bill aims to extend meaningful recognition to all the trans people of Ireland. Seconded by the warrior that is Grace O’Sullivan and the venerable David Norris, this bill will move Ireland from one of the leaders, to the undeniable world champion of trans rights. The Bill recently passed in the Seanad with every party speaking positively on behalf of the Irish trans community.
The Bill will extend to 16 and 17 year-olds the same access to gender recognition as those of us over 18 enjoy. It will allow these people to access simple, humane gender recognition, free of medical practitioners and the court system. It will give them control over an often-terrifying part of their life. It will also extend rights to those under 16 for the first time. These young people will finally be recognised and protected by this state, an important, if not slightly late step.
Finally the Bill will mandate the government to work towards meaningful non-binary recognition when it reviews the legislation later this year.
The trans community will celebrate our second anniversary with nostalgic joy, while preparing for the next fight. Won’t you join us?