The Ombudsman for Children’s Office has expressed concern that proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2015 will continue to leave under 16s behind. These comments come following the publication of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s report on the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015.
Speaking following the publication of Minister Regina Doherty’s report, OCO Head of Policy, Dr Karen McAuley said:
“Minister Doherty’s proposal to simplify the pathway to gender recognition for 16 and 17 year olds is very positive. However, it is disappointing that the matter of legal gender recognition for children and young people under 16 has been left out.
“We are delighted that a simplified process for 16 and 17 year olds to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate is to be introduced. The existing process has always been a major concern for the OCO because it is arduous and involves an inappropriate requirement for medical approval before a 16 or 17 year old can obtain a Certificate.
“While the changes proposed for 16 and 17 year olds are welcome, we are disappointed that there are no plans to change the arrangements for children and young people under 16. It is important to recognise that the law as it stands is silent on the matter of legal gender recognition for these children and young people. As such, there are no arrangements in place for them. The proposal to perpetuate this silence for the time being is a most unsatisfactory response to addressing the rights and welfare of trans young people under 16.
“We understand that a commitment has been made to commission further research into the matter of legal gender recognition for trans young people under 16. However, the specific concerns that have informed the decision to maintain the legal status quo have not been made clear. A shared understanding of the concerns that have arisen should inform scrutiny of the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill, which we expect to be published early next year.”