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Gov working on transgender policy for defence forces

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has confirmed that a Joint Civil/Military Working Group is continuing to progress the development of a Transgender Employment Policy for the Defence Forces. 

The Terms of Reference that will guide the deliberations of the Working Group are:

1. Steps to facilitate transgender individuals in serving in the Defence Forces having regard to their gender identity – including, but not limited to, accommodation matters, bathrooms, dress codes, fitness standards, medical policy, privacy matters and support networks.  

2. Limiting factors, if any, on their undertaking the full range of operational duties that may apply to transgender individuals who have undergone or who are undergoing gender reassignment surgery and recommendations with regard to medical classification. 

3. Defence Forces Entry criteria for: 

i. Persons who have undergone gender re-assignment surgery prior to their application to join the Defence forces. 

ii. Persons who are applying to join the Defence Forces having been scheduled to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but have not yet undertaken such surgery.  

4. Facilitating serving individual to transition to their gender identity.  

5. Any regulatory changes that may be required to underpin recommendations.  

6. Any other issues which the Group believes should be considered. 

Minister Coveney supplied the information in response to a parliamentary question from the Independent TD for Laois-Offaly, and member of the Rural Independent Group, Carol Nolan. 

Minister Coveney stated the establishment of the Working Group, which initially met in 2019, followed from what he called the recognition by the Defence Organisation ‘that modern Defence Forces must reflect the demographics of Irish society.’ 

It was also confirmed that the membership of the Working Group is composed of a mix of military and civil personnel drawn from a wide range of appropriate branches across the Defence Organisation. The Working Group has met on eight occasions since its inception. 

In a related parliamentary question from Deputy Nolan, Minister Coveney said that the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are represented on a Committee, led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, established to oversee and monitor progress on the implementation of the National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy 2019-2021. 

The Minister further noted that the work of the Commission on the Defence Forces included deliberation on diversity in the Defence Forces and that ‘consideration of the recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces is ongoing.’ 

“I intend to revert shortly to Government with a proposed response to those recommendations and a high-level action plan, which will set out proposed timelines and oversight arrangements for its implementation.”

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