Lydia Foy honoured by European Parliament on day she receives birth certificate

25 September 2015

Sep 2015 - Group shot with Lydia in centre
Group shot with Lydia in centre. Photo by Paula Geraghty

With the final barrier to recognition of her gender removed earlier this month, transgender champion Lydia Foy has this week obtained a birth certificate, giving her full recognition in Ireland for the first time. This conclusively ends her 22-year legal battle, which she started in 1997 when she approached legal rights organisation FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) for help.

Dr Lydia Foy will today be honoured by the European Parliament, having been nominated by Sinn Fein MEPs for the European Citizens Award for 2015. She is the only Irish recipient of this award, which she will receive at a ceremony in Brussels in October. Today she will accept a Medal of Honour from the Parliament presented by the Sinn Fein MEPs at a Dublin ceremony.

Dr Foy said “This is a great day for me and for the Trans community in Ireland. With this piece of paper and after 22 years of struggle, my country has finally recognised me for who I really am, not for what other people think I should be.  I am especially pleased for young Trans people – that they will not have to go through the pain, the isolation, the lack of understanding and the abuse that my generation had to endure.

“I am deeply honoured to be given the Medal of Honour by the European Parliament and I regard it as a tribute to all those who have helped us to become equal citizens of this State. I would also like to thank MEPs Martina Anderson, Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy and Liadh Ni Riada who proposed me for this honour.

“I would like to thank FLAC which has represented me throughout my legal battle and TENI who have been a great support to me in more recent years. I also thank Ministers Joan Burton and Kevin Humphreys who carried through the Gender Recognition Act, and all the TDs and Senators right across the political spectrum who helped to ensure that the Act was passed and that it became one of the most progressive transgender laws in Europe.”

Michael Farrell, FLAC Senior Solicitor, paid tribute to Dr Foy’s courage and tenacity. “Without Lydia there would be no Gender Recognition Act.  And without her long and painful struggle, another generation of transgender people would have to endure the hardship, fear and lack of understanding that Lydia’s generation experienced, before they could be recognised and respected as equal citizens in this country,” he said.

Mr Farrell paid tribute to several generations of FLAC lawyers, staff and interns who helped Dr Foy to fight her legal battle and to TENI and all the Trans activists who had fought so hard for Trans rights and for a comprehensive and inclusive Gender Recognition Act.

Director General of FLAC Noeline Blackwell said “Lydia has shown extraordinary bravery and sacrifice as a litigant in the public interest. As a legal rights body, FLAC is extremely proud to have been part of this historic, ground-breaking case. This award is an exceptional honour from European Parliament and is thoroughly deserved by Lydia.”




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.
  3. You can read about the European Parliament award at's-Prize-from-the-European-Parliament
  4. More on the Foy case at