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“A story of great human proportions” – Lydia Foy and the Struggle for Transgender Rights in Ireland

Resource type: Research Report

Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) |

This report chronicles Lydia Foy’s long legal struggle in Ireland to be officially recognized as a woman—an effort that not only ended in victory for her but that led to a fundamental change in Irish law and how society views gender and identity.

Foy’s story began in 1993 when she asked the Irish government for a new birth certificate identifying her gender as female. After her application was rejected, a series of complex and difficult litigation followed. Finally in 2007, the High Court found the Irish government in breach of its obligation under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to recognize Foy’s female gender and provide her with a new birth certificate.

Foy’s case also paved the way for the passage in 2015 of Ireland’s Gender Recognition Act, allowing gender recognition based on self-certification by the applicant. At the time of its passage, the law was considered one of the most progressive transgender recognition laws in Europe.

As Peter Ward, chairperson of FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), notes in the foreword to the report, because of Foy, “transgender people can now have their correct gender recognized in Irish law.”

Free Legal Advice Centres is an Atlantic grantee.

Related Resources


Human Rights & Reconciliation, LGBT

Global Impact:

Republic of Ireland