A TRANSGENDER woman from Athy can finally get a birth certificate which reflects her preferred gender 18 years after first taking
on the State.
Last Tuesday 8 September was a hugely significant day in a long running struggle for Dr Lydia Foy, and the transgender community, as a new law was finally introduced that will allow over 18s to have their preferred gender legally recognised by the State.
“It was a great day, a great day for equality,” said Dr Foy. “Everything is in the process at the moment but there is some great excitement.”
From this week, people can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate from the Department of Social Protection and this means that a person’s preferred gender will be fully recognised by the State, including dealings with public bodies.
Dr Foy has fought the Irish legal system for many years to have herself recognised in the gender she has lived in for almost 26 years.
“It is all in the process but I hope my certificate will be near the top of it,” she laughed.
She described the struggle as a very long battle and a total invasion of her privacy but added that she is particularly delighted with the developments for the young generation.
“We have had to listen to nonsense for years that a birth certificate doesn’t mean anything, that it is just a piece of paper but it is so much more than that,” she said.
In June Dr Foy was awarded a prestigious European prize to honour her struggle for legal recognition in her female gender. She was awarded the European Citizens Prize for Ireland for raising awareness of the hardship and suffering experienced by the Transgender community in Ireland and for bringing about the introduction of the Government’s Gender Recognition Bill, which now finally provides long overdue recognition of Transgender persons.
“It’s like a big jigsaw that is all coming together,” she said.
She began legal proceedings in April 1997 to challenge the refusal of the Registrar General to issue her with a new birth certificate and she was represented in the action by Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).