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Ireland Set to Make History Again With Gender Identity Bill

Ireland Set to Make History Again With Gender Identity Bill

Ireland is just steps away from giving Dr. Lydia Foy — and all its transgender citizens — the right to self-declare their gender identity.

For two decades, Foy has waged a very personal battle against the government, seeking to be able to declare her gender on legal documents without the need for a medical authority or third party validation of any kind. 

With Foy looking on, the legislature, known as the Oireachtas, passed the Gender Recognition Bill Wednesday, reported Irish news website Newstalk. The bill was sent to President Michael Higgins for his signature, which is expected before the end of July.

“This is a very significant day and not just for transgender people and their families," said Minister of State Kevin Humphreys. "It is also another milestone for equality in Irish society following the resounding 'yes' for marriage equality in May."

"Today marks the start of the rest of my life — I am having my deepest childhood dream realized," trans man Sam Blanckensee, 21, told the Transgender Equality Network Ireland. "No legislative change could ever happen in the future that could effect me more than the one that was passed. Today my identity has been finally recognized as authentic by the state.” 

The figurehead of the fight was always Foy. According to TENI, she has lived as a woman for 24 years. In 1993, she applied for a new birth certificate to reflect her true gender, but was refused.

Michael Farrell, an attorney for a nonprofit law center that represented Foy during her roughly 20-year-legal battle, said, “For Lydia Foy, it is the end of a long drawn-out struggle for the right to be recognized in the gender in which she has lived for the last 25 years."

Despite Ireland’s boast, it will not be the first or even the second nation in the world to award this right. Argentina, Denmark, Malta, and most recently Colombia have removed all medical criteria from the process of recognizing a citizen’s gender on state-issued documents. In fact, international human rights agencies have been critical of Ireland for dragging its feet on this issue since 2008. 

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