This month Ireland may go from not legally recognizing transgender people to having one of the best trans identity laws in the world.
Two weeks ago, the nation made history when it became the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by a popular vote. Ireland may once again make history by allowing transgender people over the age of 18 to self-declare their gender on legal documents solely based on their self-determination, and without any medical intervention. The legislation is scheduled to go to committee stage on June 17.
“A person who transitions gender will have their preferred gender fully recognized by the State for all purposes -- including the right to marry or enter a civil partnership in the preferred gender and the right to a new birth certificate,” said Joan Burton, Ireland’s minister for social protection, after the Cabinet approved the self-declaration amendment Wednesday evening.
If the bill is approved later this month, trans people who want to update their passports, driving licenses and birth certificates will be able to do so solely on their self-declaration.
Ireland could join Malta, Argentina and Denmark as the only countries in the world that legally recognize their citizens’ gender based on self-determination.
“This will serve as a model for the U.S.,” said Sasha Buchert, a staff attorney at The Transgender Law Center, a transgender civil rights organization based in San Francisco.
Buchert said the updates to Ireland’s Gender Recognition Bill was a “significant step forward.”
“No one needs a doctor to verify their gender, especially transgender people,” Buchert told Fusion in a telephone interview.
“We all need accurate identifications that match our gender identity in order to move privately and safely throughout the world -- whether it’s to board a flight or open a bank account,” said Buchert.
But the name and gender change process in the U.S. is complicated and expensive.
Currently some U.S. states require transgender people to go through some sort of medical threshold to be able to amend their birth certificate to reflect their accurate gender identity.
Obtaining a U.S. passport can be especially difficult and costly because it requires a government issued ID that accurately reflects the applicant’s current appearance as well as doctor’s approval.
If the applicant is in the process of transitioning then they can only apply for a passport that’s valid for two years. If they’ve already completed their transition then the applicant has to get a doctor to declare under penalty of perjury that they “had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender.”
As a result, 21 percent of transgender people who have transitioned have been able to update all of their IDs and records with their new gender, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the LGBT civil rights groups the National LGBTQ Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality.
Transgender Equality Network Ireland released the video above earlier this year ahead of the political debates around Gender Recognition Bill.