Credit: Merrion Street

Norma Foley declares: it is time to allow 16-year-olds to switch gender

Consider the following statement quietly made to the Dáil by the Minister for Education, on February 1st, two weeks ago today:

The Gender Recognition Act 2015 provides that a person can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate in order to have their preferred gender recognised by the State.

Adults over the age of 18 can apply for a gender recognition certificate. Individuals aged 16 and 17 currently require parental consent and a court order in order to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate. In line with the commitments in the Programme for Government, the Government is planning to make this less onerous by extending self-declaration to this age group, with counselling supports for these families. Draft heads of a bill to implement this recommendation have been approved by  Government and are being sent for pre legislative scrutiny.

What does the part in bold mean? We will spell it out in plain language if you are struggling to make sense of it.

At present, Irish law does permit a sixteen year old to change their gender – a biological impossibility, but the law takes no account of that – so long as the child’s parents provide their consent.

The Irish Government, according to the minister, regards this situation as too “onerous”, and would like to make it less so by extending “self-declaration” to this group “with counselling support for the families”.

What does that sound like to you? First, self-declaration is exactly what it sounds like – you declare yourself the opposite gender, and your word alone is enough for it to be legally recognised.

Second, the family gets “counselling supports” – in other words, this is something they are no longer able to withhold their consent from. But on the upside, if you object to your child changing their gender for some reason (you bigot) well, the state will provide you with counselling to take you to a happier, more inclusive perspective on life.

It is, as such, one of the biggest assaults on parental rights in the history of the Irish state – arguably in the history of the democratic world. And, Ireland being what it is, it is presently on course to be nodded through with parliamentary acclaim, and very little if any debate.

It is worth noting a few things here on the merits of the argument itself.

First, the state already recognises the immaturity of sixteen year olds. Our laws say that they may not vote. But more pertinently, the law absolves them of adult criminal responsibility: Commit a serious crime as a sixteen year old, and you will be tried as a child, under the widespread belief that a sixteen year old lacks the mental competence to understand the long term consequences of the decisions that they make.

It goes without saying that if one were to say that the age of criminal responsibility should be lowered to sixteen, there would be outcry from our friends on the left and in the mainstream about criminalising children. Yet they now wish to argue simultaneously that children of that age are sufficiently competent to legally change their gender, and, as such, undergo body modification treatments that have enormous long term health consequences, ranging from infertility to baldness.

You also cannot get married at sixteen in Ireland – a decision which, unlike taking cross-sex hormones, is actually reversible via divorce. Should we lower that, too? You cannot consent to sexual intercourse at sixteen in Ireland – again, a decision which often has far fewer long term consequences.

Aside from that argument, which is I think strong enough reason to oppose this nonsense, there is also the more pertinent issue of parental and guardianship rights. This proposal attacks them at the most fundamental, insidious level: Consider the precedent being set.

If a child at the age of sixteen can, without parental consent, change their very sex or gender, then what possible area of their life remains where their parents have any say at all? It becomes very difficult to argue that parents have any rights, at that age, if they cannot prevent their child from taking a path that they believe will do them the utmost harm. In that conflict, if Norma Foley gets her way, the state will side against the parents every time, as a matter of law.

We hear a lot in Ireland today about “far right extremism”. Not one “far right extremist” would dream of proposing a legal regime as extreme as this.

And on that note, chances are, you probably haven’t seen the latest training video for Ireland’s primary school teachers, produced by their trade union, the INTO. Behold:

“So boys can change into girls? And girls can change into boys? Yes, I said.”

I used to think that the purpose of education was to teach children things about the world which are true. But in Ireland in 2023, it appears that the purpose of education is to teach children things which are untrue.

Anyway. That’s where we are at in Ireland. But it’s those “far right” extremists you need to worry about, remember.

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