Ireland now one of most progressive states on Transgender recognition

4 June 2015

Dec 2012 - Lydia Foy with President Higgins
Lydia Foy with President Higgins at IHRC event in December 2012. Photo by Derek Speirs


Ireland is now one of the “most progressive states in the world” on legal recognition of Transgender people following the government’s amendments to the Gender Recognition Bill, according to the legal human rights body FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres).

FLAC, which represented Dr Lydia Foy in her 18-year struggle for legal recognition in her female gender, warmly welcomed yesterday’s announcement, particularly the government’s decision to drop a requirement for Trans persons to produce medical certificates as a pre-condition for recognition in their preferred gender. 

“The decision to allow Trans persons to determine their own gender identity shows respect for the Trans community and their right to self-determination,” said FLAC Senior Solicitor Michael Farrell, who represented Dr Foy in her case.  “It also marks Ireland out as one of the most progressive states in the world on this issue.”

FLAC said that the dropping of the “compulsory divorce” requirement in the Bill was equally welcome, although inevitable after the success of the Marriage Equality referendum.  This provision would have required married Trans persons to divorce as a pre-condition of recognition so as to guard against the creation of same-sex marriages, if the Trans partner and her/his spouse decided to stay together. 

Mr Farrell said there still were concerns about the very restrictive regime proposed for young Trans persons aged 16 to 18, who would have to produce certificates from two medical consultants and obtain a court order before they could be considered for recognition.  The lack of any provision for help, support and protection for Trans children under 16 who are often the victims of intolerable bullying and harassment at school was disappointing, he said.

“The changes in the Bill are a good day’s work, and it would really finish the job if the Government took measures, especially through the Department of Education, to respect, help and support young Trans persons as well as the older members of the Trans community,” commented Mr Farrell. FLAC also welcomed the commitment by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton to ensure the Bill is enacted as soon as possible.

FLAC Director General Noeline Blackwell said it was heartening to be able to bring some positive news to Geneva for the UN’s examination of the Irish government on Monday next, as the civil society report being presented to the UN by a delegation of NGOs including FLAC had made a strong recommendation for Gender Recognition law in Ireland. She added she hoped there would now be speedy implementation of the law for a marginalised community which had waited far too long for legal recognition.


Editors’ notes:

  1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is a human rights organisation which exists to promote equal access to justice for all. FLAC is an NGO that relies on a combination of statutory funding, contributions from the legal professions and donations from individuals and grant-making foundations to support its work.
  2. FLAC offers basic legal information through its telephone information line (1890 350 250) and free legal advice through its network of 80 volunteer evening advice centres – more at  It also campaigns on a range of issues including consumer credit, personal debt, fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid.
  1. The Gender Recognition Bill 2014 is on the Oireachtas website at  and a statement from the Department is at .
  2. You can download a comprehensive briefing note on the Foy case (Feb 2013) at  A press release on the settlement of her second case in October 2014, based on the government’s pledge to introduce a Transgender Recognition Bill, is at
  3. A press release on the civil society trip to Geneva including links to the civil society reports to the UN is at