Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and Lydia Foy
Ireland Nears Recognition of Trans Identities

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com September 07 2012 1:50 PM ET

Pending legislation in Ireland would permit transgender people to amend their birth certificates to reflect their accurate gender, reports the Irish Times. But the legislation would also require transgender people who are currently married to divorce and re-enter into a same-sex civil partnership, reports the Transgender Equality Network Ireland.

"Some members of Ireland's trans community are in loving marriages with children," said TENI director Broden Gambrione. "In effect, this would force them to choose between the integrity of their family and accessing a basic human right. No one should be asked to make such a choice. Ireland is a progressive country whose constitution affords particular protection to the family based on marriage. This proposal shows no respect for Ireland's married trans families. The idea of forcing a happy couple to live apart and divorce is unimaginable."

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton spoke to the issue at the opening session of the fourth annual European Transgender Council in Dublin on Friday. She said the issue was a priority for her administration, and pledged continued dialogue with TENI and other activist groups seeking fair legal recognition for transgender Irish people.

The legislation, which has yet to be introduced, comes five years after an Irish High Court court ruled in favor of Lydia Foy, a trans woman who argued that the state was required to provide her with a means to recognize her accurate gender through an amended birth certificate. Ireland currently allows transgender people to apply for passports and driver's licenses that reflect their accurate gender but does not allow them to amend a birth certificate accordingly.

"This is a moment where we can and must influence the legislation to be the best it can be," said Giambrone in a press release. "We need legislation that respects the diversity of our community, that does not pathologize us and does not tear our families apart. And we need it now."

Ireland is the only country in Europe with no legal recognition of transgender people, according to TENI.