Legal recognition of your preferred gender
Since September 2015, trans people in Ireland can apply to have their preferred gender legally recognised by the State. This is set out in the Gender Recognition Act 2015.
Anyone over 18 can apply to change their gender. People aged 16 and 17 can also apply, but the process is slightly different and may take longer. If you are under 16, it is not possible to change your gender that is recognised by the State.
When you legally change your gender, you are given a gender recognition certificate. This certificate can also state your new name, if you have chosen to change it. Read about legally changing your name by deed poll.
Once you have a gender recognition certificate, you can then apply for a revised birth certificate.
Legal recognition of your new gender is not retrospective. This means that any rights, responsibilities and consequences of actions by you before the date of recognition remain unaffected. In other words, your preferred gender will start to be legally recognised from the date of recognition, and not before.
In 2007, the High Court ruled that Ireland was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in not having a process to legally recognise the acquired gender of transgender people.
As a result, a Gender Recognition Advisory Group was set up. The group advised on the legislation required to allow transgender people have their preferred gender legally recognised.
Changing your gender at age 16 or 17
The process for changing your gender depends on your age.
If you are aged 16 or 17, you can ask an adult (normally your parent or guardian - also referred to as next friend of the child) to apply for a gender recognition certificate on your behalf.
First, they will need to apply to the Circuit Family Court to exempt you from the over-18 age restriction. The Court can grant the exemption if you have:
- The consent of a parent or guardian
- A form from your medical practitioner certifying that, in their professional medical opinion, you have the maturity and understanding to make this decision for yourself. They must also certify that you have transitioned (or are currently transitioning) into your preferred gender.
- A form from a psychiatrist or endocrinologist certifying that they agree with the medical practitioner.
If the court grants the exemption, you or the adult can apply for a gender recognition certificate on your behalf. See Applying for a gender recognition certificate below for details.
Note: In November 2019, the Department of Social Protection published a report proposing a simplified path to legal gender recognition for people aged 16 to 17. The report was published after a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 (pdf). Its recommendations have not yet been passed into law.
Applying for a gender recognition certificate
If you want your preferred gender to be legally recognised by the State, you must apply for a gender recognition certificate. Download the application form, GRC 1 (pdf).
Who can apply?
You can apply for a gender recognition certificate if you are at least 18 and you are registered in the:
- Register of Births
- Adopted Children Register
- Register of Intercountry Adoptions
- Foreign Births Register or a foreign births entry book
You can also apply if you were born outside of Ireland but are ordinarily resident here. Evidence of your birth is required.
Foreign gender recognition
If you have already changed gender in another country, you can apply for a gender recognition certificate in Ireland. You must provide a copy of the relevant decision, order or certificate when submitting your application.
If you have changed your name
If you want your gender recognition certificate to be issued in your new name (a different name to that on your birth certificate), you must provide details of the forename and surname you wish to use.
It is no longer a requirement to provide proof that you have used this new name for over 2 years, or a deed poll for a change of name.
The application form and other supporting documents
The application form includes a Statutory Declaration, which must be witnessed by either a:
Include the following documents with your application, where applicable:
- Birth certificate
- Adoption certificate
- Proof of residency in Ireland, if you were not born in Ireland
Sending your application
There is no charge for a gender recognition certificate.
Send your completed application form (pdf) and supporting documents (these will be returned to you) to:
Client Identity Services, Department of Social Protection, Shannon Lodge, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, N41 KD8.
Once you get your gender recognition certificate, your gender (and your name, if you have chosen to change it) will be updated on the Department of Social Protection’s database. This means that all records associated with your Personal Public Service (PPS) Number will be updated with your new information.
Getting a revised birth certificate
When you get your gender recognition certificate, you can then apply for a revised birth certificate if you are registered in either:
- The Register of Births
- The Adopted Children Register
- The Register of Intercountry adoptions
- The Foreign Births Register
How to apply for a revised birth certificate
How you apply for a revised birth certificate depends on where your birth is already registered.
If you are registered in the Register of Births or the Adopted Children Register:
- You apply to the General Register Office (GRO) to be entered in the register of gender recognition. Your details will already have been sent to the General Registrar. There is no charge. Download the application form for entry in the Register of Gender Recognition (pdf).
If you are registered in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions:
- You apply in writing to the Adoption Authority of Ireland to be entered in the Register of Gender Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions. Your details will already have been sent to the Adoption Authority. Download the application form (pdf).
If you are registered in the Foreign Births Register or a foreign births entry book:
- You apply to the Department of Foreign Affairs to be entered in the Register of Gender Recognition of Foreign Births. To start your application, contact the Department using its online form.
Getting a copy of your revised birth certificate
You can apply for a certified copy of your entry in the register from the relevant authority once the relevant authority has registered you in either:
- The Register of Gender Recognition
- The Register of Gender Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions
- The Register of Gender Recognition of Foreign Births
A certified copy of an entry costs €20.
The following people can apply for a copy of your entry in the register:
- Your surviving spouse or civil partner if you have died
- Your child if there is no surviving spouse or civil partner
- Your parent if there is no surviving spouse, civil partner or child
- Your brother or sister if there is no surviving spouse, civil partner, child or parent
Reversal of gender recognition certificate
Where you hold a gender recognition certificate and you want to revert to your original gender, Section 15 of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 allows you to apply to revoke your certificate in a similar process as your initial application for legal recognition of your preferred gender. There is a similar but more detailed revocation process for those between 16 and 18.
Under Section 14 of the Act, a gender recognition certificate can also be revoked where information is received that would have led to the refusal of the certificate, had it been received prior to it being issued.
Other supports available
Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) aims to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families. Its website includes a wide range of supports and resources available to trans people throughout Ireland.
BeLonG To is a national support organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young people, aged between 14 and 23, in Ireland. It also offers advice to parents and carers.
Find information on its services and other supports at belongto.org.
LGBT Ireland provides support and training across Ireland. In addition to running peer groups and local helplines, its website offers a range of information for all age groups.
You can call their Transgender Family Support Line on 01 907 3707.
Alternatively, you can also call the LGBT helpline on 1800 929 539.
GenderEd.ie is an online education programme aimed at supporting adult family members of young transgender people in Ireland. It includes advice on gender identity basics, school and social settings, legal issues, health and wellbeing, as well as looking ahead to the future.