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02/27/2013

News / Transgender woman files lawsuit against Irish govt. for birth certificate delay

Dr. Lydia Foy, a transgender woman who won a landmark case for gender recognition in Ireland’s High Court six years ago, is suing the government for failing to take legal measures to recognize the sex of transgender people. The lack of legislation has prevented the issuance of Foy’s own birth certificate.

Foy served a plenary summons against the Minister for Social Protection and the Attorney General on the Chief State Solicitor Monday, The Irish Times reports.

“I think it’s beyond belief that the State still hasn’t changed the law,” Dr. Foy noted. “You’d imagine they’d have dived in to fix this up. Not a huge number of people would be affected and it’s a matter of human rights.”

Dr. Foy was born Donal Mark Foy and was registered male. She married and had two daughters, but struggled with her gender identity. At one point, she attempted suicide and was placed in psychiatric care. After receiving a diagnosis of gender identity disorder and separating with her then-wife, Foy underwent gender realignment surgery in Britain. As a result of her gender change, she lost her job as a dentist, as well as access to her two daughters.

In 1993 Lydia Foy applied for a birth certificate reflecting her new gender in Ireland, but her request was refused. She began legal proceedings against the state in 1997. The High Court of Ireland initially ruled against Foy in 2002, but reversed its decision five years later.

In its 2007 ruling, the High Court stated the Irish law was in breach of the European Convention for Human Rights for refusing to recognize the gender of transgender people. The Irish government at first tried to challenge the decision, but withdrew its appeal in 2010.

Despite the landmark decision, Lydia Foy has still been unable to obtain her new birth certificate. The various governments that governed the country since the ruling all promised to introduce legislation to rectify the situation, but nothing has been done so far.

Joan Burton, the Minister for Social Protection, said the legislation was a “priority” and promised last September that it would be published “within weeks.” Lydia Foy said the government has fallen short on its promise and called the lack of legislative action a “source of distress” and a “constant insult.” She said it was important for her to get a birth certificate that reflects her true identity.

“Losing my family and my job seemed the worst, most important issues in the past,” she noted. “But I see everything flows from your identity. Being accepted for who I am is the most important thing. I would like to see this wrong put right as quickly and with as much dignity as possible.”

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