A new report has said that Irish transgender legislation was passed ‘under the radar’, and that Irish transgender advocacy groups heavily lobby politicians but keep press coverage of their activities to a minimum in order to avoid a public backlash. The report also says that laws requiring parents to consent if their young children want to change their gender can be ‘restrictive and problematic’ and that ‘states should take action against parents who are obstructing…in refusing to give parental authorization when required”.

The “Only adults? Good Practices in legal gender recognition for youth” report was created by: IGLYO, an international LGBT+ lobby group; the Thomas Reuters Foundation, the corporate foundation of the Reuters news company; and Dentons, the world’s largest law firm. They were helped in Ireland by LK Shields Solicitors and Belong To, an LGBT+ advocacy group who received €638,097 in government grants in 2018 and who have been described by Minister Regina Doherty as “inspiring”.

The report examines the successes of the transgender lobby in various counties and is explicitly designed to educate transgender activists in other countries to replicate those successes.

Even though the foundation wing of a news organisation was heavily involved in the creation of the report the reports states that ‘Another technique which has been used to great effect is the limitation of press coverage and exposure’ and that “where advocates fail to intervene early, sensitizing the media and the public… persistent negative and pernicious narratives about the trans rights agenda may take hold in the public imagination which will negatively influence the legislative process and the prospects for success”.

Speaking of Ireland the documents say that “The most important lesson from the Irish experience is arguably that trans advocates can possibly be much more strategic by trying to pass legislation “under the radar” by latching trans rights legislation onto more popular legal reforms (e.g. marriage equality)”. They say the passing of marriage equality offered a ‘veil’ behind which activists could push for the legislation they wanted.

Irish activists, according to the report, see the 2015 Gender Recognition Act ‘not as a victory, but as a starting point’, and are hopeful that legislation will soon be drafted to allow children of any age to legally change their gender without parental consent.