In today’s Irish Independent, Philip Ryan is reporting that “children under the age of 16 would be able to legally change their gender under plans being discussed by Fine Gael.” Ryan goes on to note that:

“A Fine Gael policy paper drafted for the government formation talks recommends changing laws to allow all children change their gender. Under current legislation in Ireland, only those over the age of 18 can legally do so.”

The 15-page policy paper, drafted by Fine Gael’s LGBT committee, (of which the Taoiseach is a member) wants that situation reversed and is recommending “that these children should be free to legally self-declare their own gender.”

Whatever you think about this; it’s a radical change that has received very little media attention – which says more about the state of our media than it does about the policy positions that Fine Gael may chose to adopt at legislative level.

I highlighted this identical policy recommendation in an April 2019 blog post, ‘No minimum age for gender change,’ Fine Gael LGBT.

Back then, we made it clear that following a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, Fine Gael LGBT wanted all legal ‘restrictions’ on children under 16 removed.

The Fine Gael LGBT  (submission 56) also recommended that government:

“Permit persons aged 16 and 17 years to self-determine their legal gender with no requirement for medical certification and no court order in line with international best practice.”

And:

“Allow a person who has reached the age of 16 to apply for legal recognition of their preferred gender without the need for parental consent, court order or medical certification.”

Today’s Irish Independent does not say if the document submitted to current government formation talks maintains these recommendations, but it is almost certain that it does. Why would they change their position?

The 2015 Fine Gael submission to the Gender Recognition Act also approvingly notes the Yogyakarta Principle that “while a state continues to register sex or gender…[n]o eligibility criteria, such as medical or psychological interventions, a psycho-medical diagnosis, minimum or maximum age, economic status, health, marital or parental status, or any other third-party opinion, shall be a prerequisite to change one’s name, legal sex or gender.”

This is utterly bizarre and quite frankly terrifying ideological territory. What would no “minimum” age look like in reality?

Are we to seriously entertain the notion that children as young as 3, 4 or 5 years of age should be allowed to change their gender, even with parental consent?

Is that what Fine Gael see as important in the middle of tortuously slow government formation talks and an economy in catastrophic freefall?

It should also be noted that Fine Gael LGBT are not remotely happy with current format of the statutory declaration in Gender Recognition Act. To obtain this declaration the applicant must confirm that they have “a settled and solemn intention of living in the preferred gender for rest of his or her life.”

According to Fine Gael, “This does not reflect the lived experience of gender non-conforming people who may express a sincere wish to identify with one gender at one stage in their life, while having an equally sincere wish to live in another gender, or none at all, at another stage in their life.”

I suspect that this is the kind of conceptually confused and incoherent language that will send some Fine Gael members into apoplexy.

They will not be the only ones.