Forced Divorce and Sterilisation – A Reality for Many Transgender Persons

Published: August 31, 2010

The rights of transgender persons are still ignored or violated, but some signs of understanding now begin to appear. One example is the outcome, at long last, of Lydia Foy’s struggle in Ireland. She was registered as male at birth but has lived as a woman since 1992. This summer she finally succeeded in her battle for legal recognition by the Irish state as a woman and for a birth certificate that reflects this reality.

Most people legally defined as man or woman will experience a corresponding gender identity. Transgender persons, however, do not have such a corresponding identity and may wish to change their legal, social, and sometimes also physical status.

The case initiated by Lydia Foy in 1997 led to a High Court ruling ten years later that Ireland was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by not providing recognition of Dr. Foy in her preferred gender. It took the Irish government another 2.5 years to accept that Irish law is incompatible with the European Convention. In June 2010 the Irish government withdrew its appeal to the Supreme Court and will now recognise Lydia Foy as a woman.

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