The review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 targeted the widest possible level of public consultation within the timeframe set out in the terms of reference for the Review Group, which envisaged completion of the review by end May 2018.
The written consultation process was formally announced on 10 January 2018, with a closing date for receipt of submissions of 5 February 2018. In addition to this, advance notice of the consultation process was made in a press release concerning “Supporting Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace” guidelines, which I launched on 15 December 2017.
Reflecting the terms of reference, contributors were invited to make submissions under the following headings:
a. Arrangements for children aged 16 to 17 years;
b. Arrangements for children aged under 16 years;
c. Arrangements for persons who identify as neither male nor female (e.g. non-binary);
d. Arrangements for intersex people;
e. Any other relevant issues, including issues relating to the operation of the current legislative provisions.
The call for submissions was publicised on the gender recognition web page of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, on social media via the Department’s social media channels, and by advertising in the main national daily newspapers. Members of the group highlighted the call for submissions on the websites and social media accounts of their own organisations, to raise awareness, and to call for submissions from representative groups and individuals in their networks. The consultation process was also brought to the attention of Members of both Houses of the Oireachtas as well as a range of organisations that were invited to make submissions (e.g. medical and legal representative bodies, school patron bodies, teacher representative bodies, Comhairle na nÓg, the Ombudsman for Children, Tusla, FLAC, ICTU, sporting and other youth participation organisations).
In order to ensure that the consultation process was visible to young people, the Review Group contacted, amongst other young peoples’ representative groups, the Irish Second Level Student’s Union (ISSU) – the national umbrella body for second-level student councils. The ISSU assisted the group by contacting student councils via email and inviting submissions to the consultation process. They also included an advertisement for the consultation process in their regular bulletin and published an interview with the Chair on their Facebook page.
A total of 92 written submissions were received and are available on the gender recognition web page at the following link: www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Review-of-the-Gender-Recognition-Act-2015.aspx.
The Review Group held follow-up consultation meetings with members of the transgender community, medical practitioners, and legal experts. They heard first hand experiences of transgender young people, parents of transgender young people, and also held discussions with a non-binary adult. Details of the participants in these meetings are as follows:
- Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection (2 meetings)
- Three young people (accompanied by a youth support worker) – two of whom are transgender and one of whom is non-binary
- Three parents of children (ranging from ages 9 to 18) who are transgender – not parents of the child contributors
- Dr. Fergus Ryan (senior lecturer in law, Maynooth University)
- An adult who is non-binary
- Representatives of the medical profession:
- Dr. Aileen Murtagh (Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services)
- Prof. Donal O’Shea (Consultant Endocrinologist, representing the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland),
- Dr. Susan O’Connell (Paediatric Endocrinologist, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, representing the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland),
- Dr. Andree Rochfort (representing the Irish College of General Practitioners).
The meetings with transgender young people and with parents were held in my Department’s offices in Cork Street, Dublin, in March 2018. The remainder of the consultation meetings were held in my Department’s headquarter building in Store Street, Dublin, on dates between February 2018 and April 2018.
The closing date for written submissions was set at 5 February 2018, as this was considered sufficient time for contributors to make a submission while also allowing time for follow-up consultation and preparation of a report to the Minister, to comply with the end-May 2018 target date for submission of the report.