It has been confirmed that an alleged sex offender who was born male is being held in the women’s prison in Limerick. 

The prisoner, who now identifies as female, is being detained on remand with female prisoners.

In response to a question from Deputy Peadar Tóibín, the Justice Minister Charles Flanagan said there was “a prisoner known to the Irish Prison Service who was born male but is now recognised as female under the Gender Recognition Act 2015 being detained in a female prison for an alleged sexual offence.”

The prisoner was first held in the Dóchas Centre in Dublin, but has since been transferred to Limerick.

The Irish Examiner reported that :”The inmate was born male but is now recognised as female under the Gender Recognition Act 2015. It is understood that she has not undergone any transgender surgery, nor is she receiving hormonal therapy.”

It is permissible to legally changer gender in Ireland by simply signing a sworn statement.

Under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) Ireland is one of just four countries where people who wish to have their change of gender recognised by the State are only required to make a formal declaration of their “settled and solemn intention” to live in a preferred gender.

Prior to the legislation, which passed through the Dáil in 2015, persons wishing to legally change gender would have to provide evidence in support of the change from endocrinologists and psychiatrists. However, this requirement was dropped after a campaign from transgender activists who felt the conditions were too onerous.

The prisoner in this case would have signed a statutory declaration that stated:

i) have a settled and solemn intention to live in the preferred gender for the rest of my life,
ii) understand the consequences of the application, and
iii) make this application of my own free will.

Whether the gender recognition certificate was obtained by the prisoner after being charged with sex assault is unclear, but the Irish Examiner reports the certificate was obtained by the time the case came before the court last July, and the accused is now detained on remand with other female prisoners.

The paper also reports that “it is understood that the prisoner has been assigned a high level of monitoring and supervision in the interests of protecting both her and her fellow detainees.”