Gender Recognition Possible but Problematic

14 Jul 2011

Transgender people forced to divorce

This morning the report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) was launched by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, TD. "We applaud Minister Burton for her decisive action in bringing the GRAG's report to Cabinet and making it publicly available for further debate," said Broden Giambrone, Director of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).

Deep Reservations about the Report

TENI welcomes the report as a step forward for trans people in Ireland. However, TENI has grave reservations concerning the proposed criteria to be met in order to obtain gender recognition, which will exclude many trans people and will discourage many more from seeking legal recognition.


The requirement to exclude people in existing marriages or civil partnerships from the proposed gender recognition will force trans people to break up their relationships in order to obtain recognition, causing serious hardship for trans people and their families.

"Some members of Ireland's trans community are in loving marriages with children. 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," declared Giambrone. "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."

This morning, GRAG Chairperson Oliver Ryan admitted that the proposal left couples in "a practically impossible position". The proposal is also contrary to the recent Council of Europe report dealing with gender recognition that encourages the separation of marriage from the legal recognition process.

Medical Criteria

The requirement of either a formal diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) or having undergone gender reassignment surgery is also problematic. "The medical criteria are very restrictive and will act as an exclusionary barrier to legal recognition for some trans individuals. A diagnosis of GID also excludes intersex people, many of whom who would benefit enormously from accessing gender recognition legislation." Said Giambrone. "Furthermore, such a requirement would necessitate healthcare professionals with experience in gender identity who are trained to provide this service to people throughout the country. We're simply not there yet."

"Open Door"

This morning Minister Burton positively reaffirmed her commitment to an open and transparent process that will ensure ongoing engagement and dialogue on the proposed legislation noting that there is an "open door".

"This is a key moment for trans human rights. Ireland has the opportunity to lead Europe in progressive gender recognition legislation. We are eagerly looking forward to engaging the Minister and her staff to ensure that the experiences and voices of trans people are reflected and represented in the draft legislation" Concluded Broden Giambrone.

The GRAG report and TENI's submission to the GRAG are both available at