The Gender Recognition Bill (Second Stage) has been debated in the Oireachtas. This is a Bill that attempts to give certainty to individuals who want to have their change of gender legally recognised. This is a hugely important issue. And the stats speak for themselves. 
· 80% of transgender people have thought about ending their lives,
· 40% have attempted suicide,
· 36% have been physically intimidated or threatened, and
· 36% have experienced sexual harassment.
This is just a glimpse of the discrimination. Numerous others indicators exist. But the picture is clear: this community is marginalised and their interests under-represented.
So where does this Bill fit in? The core of the Bill is about who may apply for gender recognition certificates and how do they justify their application. That one needs to justify one’s application is the first problem. Applying should suffice. Nonetheless, in order to do so:
· You have to be ordinarily resident in the State, whether your birth took place here or not,
· You must be 18 or over,
· And you must not be married or have a civil partner.
This last point will be criticised. It means you can either remain married and retain the gender you do not identify with, or divorce and attain the gender you identify with. This is an unfair choice to offer and an unusual trade-off to promote. Some individuals will be in happy relationships with partners who support their gender transition. This provision will complicate their lives. And if applicants fulfill these requirements, the application itself consists of:
· Administrative documentation changes,
· And medical certification supporting his or her application.
Once again, this last point will be criticised. An applicant must have his or her GP verify that he or she has or is transitioning. Firstly, this is economically inefficient as it results in a transfer of monies without any discernible benefit taking place. A GP is not in a better position to determine this than an applicant and so consultation fees are a misallocation of resources. Secondly, on a human level, this requirement is an insult to the integrity of applicants.
The Bill also provides for gender recognition certificates for children aged from 16 to 18:
· Who are supported by their parents,
· And are backed by their GP and an independent endocrinologist or psychiatrist.
· And who have had an application for a certificate granted by a court.
These provisions are onerous. Bringing the courts system into the equation can stigmatise, deter, and complicate. Transgender teens may become more disillusioned than they already are. And for parents who may be saving to provide a university-level education for their children, having their child’s gender identity recognised now becomes an additional cost. In some cases, this may require another trade-off. And it is economically inefficient if it results in the transfer of monies from the parents of transgender teens to lawyers or the State at the cost of the education of these individuals.
Apart from these areas of interest, the Bill also deals with appealing decisions, revoking decisions, mistakes in certificates, parenthood, and ‘gender specific offences’ (criminal acts), among other things.
So overall this is a well-intentioned Bill that has a number of serious flaws and which appears to have been written without sufficient consultation with the transgender community. Had there been:
· Self-declaration rather than GP-declaration would have been preferred,
· Divorce would not be necessary for married individuals,
· 16 would not have been the cut-off for teenagers,
· And there would be no mention of an endocrinologist or psychiatrist.
Over the coming months these changes should be made before the Bill becomes an Act. Otherwise it will have been a missed opportunity to introduce legislation to empower and support the transgender community.
 All statistics come from: P Mayock and A Bryan, Supporting LGBT Lives: The Mental Health and Well-Being of Transgender People in Ireland – cited in TENI, Suicide and Self-harm in the Transgender Community; J McNeil, L Baley, S Ellis and M Regan, Speaking from the Margins: Trans Mental Health and Well-Being in Ireland, TENI (2013)
 It is unclear the extent to which same-sex marriage could play in the retention or removal of this provision.