TENI calls for inclusive legislation before Oireachtas Joint Committee
Earlier today four representatives from TENI appeared before the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection. They called for gender recognition legislation that reflected the real lives of trans people in Ireland.
TENI Director Broden Giambrone
and TENI Board Member Dr Tanya Ní Mhuirthile
set out the issues presented by the current legislative proposals, including the controversial requirements for married trans people to divorce before applying for Recognition and for all trans people to be diagnosed with a mental illness.
"It is vital that the legislation that is introduced is firmly grounded in a rights-based model that is inclusive, progressive and marriage-friendly," said Giambrone, who highlighted the challenges for basing Irish legislation on the UK's Gender Recognition Act 2004. Ní Mhuirthile cited the Argentinian law enacted in May 2012, which currently stands as the most progressive legislation worldwide and the foremost example of international best practice: "[the law] simply enables an individual seeking recognition to complete a form outlining their preferred gender identity without any subsequent evidence or information. Thus the person becomes the final arbitrator of their legal gender."
Chaired by Deputy Joanna Tuffy, committee members present included Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Brendan Ryan and Joan Collins, and Senators Marie Moloney and Averil Power. Senator Power stated that being the last State in the EU to legislate offered Ireland the opportunity to learn from the experience of other countries.
TENI Board Member Victoria Mullen
highlighted the limited experience and expertise of the initial Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) in relation to transgender issues:
"Imagine the furore that would erupt if Government formed a group to report on how women might access their human rights – but only appointed men to that group?
"Yet, no member of the GRAG was transgender, or even experienced in transgender issues. And our absence is evident."
Deputy Ryan commended the TENI speakers on their very strong presentation, reiterating the Labour Party's commitment to enacting within a Human Rights framework "the legislation you quite rightly deserve".
TENI Board Member and Facilitator of the Cork Trans Support Group Darrin Matthews
spoke of the personal challenges faced in living in a country without Recognition:
"My mother once asked if I was sure. If was really sure that this is what I wanted. I told her there was no way I could go back and be happy. Her reply was 'Well then we can only go forward, my son'.
"I always knew transitioning would never be easy but please don’t make it any harder than it already is. I am not looking for special treatment. All I want is to be treated as an equal. To be treated with as much respect and dignity as everybody else. Nothing more. Nothing less. Thank you."
In the Q&A session following, Senator Moloney's response spoke to the personal and impassioned nature of the presentations: "You are very brave to come in and bare your souls. [...] You have woken me up today."
The Committee will forward today's statements and discussion to Minister Burton and have extended an invitation for TENI to return for further discussion when the Heads of Bill is published.
The full transcript of the submission can be read at: http://www.teni.ie/news-post.aspx?contentid=715
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Contact TENI on (01) 873 3575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
TENI’s Director Broden Giambrone is available for interview, and can be contacted on 087 135 9816.
Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families. TENI works in four main areas: support, education, advocacy and capacity building.