Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection

General Scheme of Gender Recognition Bill 2013: Discussion (Resumed)

10:55 am

Dr. Tanya Ní Mhuirthile:

I will make three small points. First, to pick up the baton from Dr. Crowley, in regard to sport, the International Olympic Committee has an evolving guideline on how to deal with questions of gender and gender identity in sport. I did not address it because of time constraints but it seems mad in the extreme that we would bring in a legislative provision on sport that does not speak to the evolving guidelines those in the sporting community are developing. It is particularly strange that we would bring in something whereby a person would be eligible to compete in the Olympics but not in the local national qualifying event that gets them to the Olympics. That seems bats to me.

I would recommend that if the Legislature feels the burning need to mention sport in this legislation, and the legislation would be no poorer if it were left it out, let it be something general along the lines of sporting organisations ought to be cognisant of best international practice, the evolving guidelines of the International Olympic Committee or some other nice reference like that.

On the point Deputy Collins raised with Dr. Crowley about medical support treatments to wrap around children in particular, that is all very important and I do not disagree with it but that is a different conversation about the provision of services. That is not a conversation about the access to legal rights. S v. An Bord Uchtála shows us the limitations of what happens when the conversation is not focused on the access to legal rights. It means children cannot go to the local boys' or girls' school. We need to have the conversations about accessing legal rights separate from the conversation about accessing medical treatment pathways. As the new Commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, has consistently reiterated, we must depathologise legal gender recognition. We must not allow access to human rights and legal rights to be predicated on a person having a medical condition or a doctor saying that he or she has or has had a medical condition. That is the second point.

The third point is to respond regarding the temporary certificate. I do not object to it as a type of comfort blanket for legislators if they want it but how is it different from a full gender recognition certificate? I would point out that if it is not different in some meaningful way from a full gender recognition certificate, it is an act of discrimination against young people. I want to make it very clear that we must know how it is different and if it is not different in a substantive and important way, and if it limits one's ability to access certain rights or does exactly what the full gender recognition certificate does, why have it? What is the difference other than enshrining discrimination?


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