July 16, 2015 at 10:44 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Irish lawmakers approve transgender rights bill

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Irish lawmakers on July 15, 2015, approved a bill that will allow transgender people to legally change their gender without medical intervention. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Irish lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill that will allow transgender people to legally change their gender without medical intervention.

“This is a historic moment for the trans community in Ireland,” said Sara R. Phillips, chair of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland, in a statement after lawmakers approved the Gender Recognition Bill. “Today is the first day we will be seen as who we truly are.”

Wednesday’s vote caps off more than two decades of efforts around the issue that began in 1993 when Dr. Lydia Foy tried to change the gender on her birth certificate.

Irish President Michael Higgins is expected to sign the Gender Recognition Bill into law in the coming weeks.

“This is a great moment for trans people living in Ireland,” said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis in a statement.

Alecs Recher, co-chair of Transgender Europe, a European advocacy group, also applauded the vote. The organization, however, noted the measure does not include intersex people and those who are under the age of 18.

“This is a wonderful achievement after decades of struggle for trans people’s recognition in Ireland,” said Recher after the vote. “The legislation has come a long way to the final proposal, thanks to a strenuous trans community and their allies. However, a considerate part of the trans community remains excluded. Minors, intersex people and those with a non-binary identity deserve recognition, too.”

Ireland will become the fourth country to allow trans people to legally change their gender without surgery and other medical interventions.

The Colombian government last month ordered trans people can legally change their name and gender on identification cards and other official documents without surgery.

Maltese lawmakers in April approved a sweeping trans rights bill that also allows people to legally change their gender without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery, hormone therapy or “any other psychiatric, psychological or medical treatment.” Argentina and Denmark have also enacted similar laws.

A referendum to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Ireland passed in May by a 62-38 vote margin.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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