The sad case of Ohio transgender girl, Leelah Alcorn (17) has highlighted the need for a rethink in Ireland of the Gender Recognition Bill, in regard to 16 and 17 year-olds.
Leelah was refused permission by her parents to transition on her 16th birthday, and wrote in her tumbler suicide note: “I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4”.
This tragedy, which could possibly have been averted if the parental consent rule for 16 year-olds was changed, should inform the Irish government in relation to the conditions it has laid down for transitioning of 16 and 17 year-olds. Here in Ireland, this age group will also need parental consent, a medical certificate, a certificate from a psychiatrist or endocrinologist, AND a court order.
According to Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI):
“..the process that is being proposed is onerous. In order to be legally recognised, young people aged 16 and 17 will, in most cases, require parental consent, a certificate from their primary treating medical practitioner, a second certificate from ‘an endocrinologist or psychiatrist, who has no connection to the child’, and a court order”.
Even more worrying is that under 16s are excluded from the Bill.
TENI chair, Sara Phillips, recently criticised the Gender Recognition Bill:
“We are very disappointed that this Bill does not go further in protecting the rights of trans people in this country. This is a moment we should be celebrating as we are one step closer to legal recognition. However, many members of our community are still excluded in this legislation. We remain hopeful that the Government will work closely with the trans community to improve this legislation before it becomes law. There is still time to do the right thing. Gender recognition legislation has the capacity to greatly improve the lives of trans people, and to ensure that trans people are treated with dignity and respect as they live their day to day lives. This is, and always has been, a human rights issue. Trans people deserve the respect of being recognised and protected for who they are.”