Louise Hannon (louisehannon1) wrote,
Louise Hannon

First impression of the GRAG Report

I was at the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) report launch yesterday by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton TD. It was a very civilised affair indeed, until the report was digested in the half hour or so before Minister Burton's arrival. Then came the shock as people read what is being proposed, but in fact it should have been no shock. It should have been expected. The report is a copy and paste for the most part of the UK act which came into force in 2005

Some were greatly annoyed by it, however this report has to be taken in the context of a constitutional arm lock and a report group where there was no transgender representation whatsoever. It was written by well meaning civil servants but with no prior knowledge or understanding of being transgendered. The report depends very much on a medical model of diagnosis and treatment, which leans very heavily on mental health as a diagnosis, and as a means of progressing to full state legal recognition.

This is flawed but not surprising, and I'll tell you why. It depends on the American Psychiatric Association model of diagnosis for those who are transgendered. A mental health diagnosis attaches a stigma to transgendered people as having mental health issues. They have no more mental health issues than any other segment of the population...I know many in the community who are self employed, hold down good jobs and some who are unemployed, like any other sector of the population. We also need to look at how we as a people support those in the population with mental health issues and destigmatise, but that's for another day.

The irony of it is that we must be diagnosed with a mental health disorder to become legally recognised by the state, when in fact it's a clinical condition treated by hormones and surgery.
Being transgendered is a conflict which we are born with where the brain is mentally opposite to the physical gender at birth... Transgender people have been around for centuries but only now are we understanding the medical issues involved.

Some of the Irish population have mental health issues as in any country and the large majority would not be transgender, but imagine if the state decided to legally ignore them, there would be an outcry. This is what is happening now to those who are in sound marriages and are transgendered. They are being asked to choose between a Gender Recognition Certificate which gives them legal status in the State in their true gender (on mental diagnosis), or stay in a loving supportive marriage where they cannot be legally recognised... That's an impossible choice for anyone to make and it is a human rights/equality issue. If there are children to consider, then it's more difficult again..I'm really upset for my friends who are in this situation. There has to be a better way forward.

We have a constitution which was written over 70 years ago in a completely different time and our legislators are having to go through hoops to avoid a constitutional challenge. Surely it's time we had a look at the constitution?

The remainder of the report, ignores those who are intersexed and it also states that the Data Protection Act and the Equal Status and Employment Equality Acts are adequate to cover those transgendered. What would have happened if my own discrimination case had been rejected, would the group have come out in favour of strengthening the law to include transgender under the gender grounds.? We will never know. This has sadly been very much a lost opportunity in progressive treatment of Irish transgendered people in law, unless changes are made.


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