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New law will make it easier for teenagers to change their gender

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(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

Laws to make it easier for 16 and 17-year-olds to legally change their gender will be introduced by the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green government.

The deal struck by the three parties also commits to examining the arrangements for children under 16 who may wish to change gender.

A Fine Gael policy paper has already proposed legal changes that would allow under-16s to change their gender with parental approval.

The programme for government commits amending the existing Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for teenagers aged between 16 and 17 to change gender legally.

At present, people of this age must go to court, have their gender change certified by two medical practitioners and obtain parental consent.

But the document states that the proposed new government will "remove the need for a person aged 16 and 17 years to have two specialist reports before they can apply for legal gender recognition, by providing for self-declaration, with parental consent and by making mediation available on a voluntary basis".

The outgoing government made a similar proposal last year after a review of the Act commissioned by the Department of Social Protection which said the regime for 16 and 17-year-olds was "too onerous". The programme also commits to commencing "research to examine arrangements for children under 16".

A report drafted by Fine Gael's LGBT committee has already called for laws to be changed to permit children aged under 16 to legally change their gender.

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) chair Sara Phillips said while the proposal for 16 and 17-year-olds was welcome, the commitments on under-16s were "very cautious" and also called for legal recognition for non-binary people.

On the current debate on gender issues sparked by author JK Rowling's comments on trans rights, she said: "We need to focus on the reality of trans people's lives, lots of people shouting at each other on social media is not helpful."

The programme also commits to completing interdepartmental work on legal recognition of non-binary people, ensuring departments and public bodies use correct pronouns and commits to creating and implementing a general health policy for trans people based on best practice.

Irish Independent