Transsexual Dentist Loses Court Identity Battle
[IRELAND] - In a landmark High Court decision yesterday, a dentist who was registered at birth as a male and later underwent gender reassignment surgery lost her application for an order that she be described on her birth certificate as female.
Behind the legal case taken by Dr Lydia Annice Foy, who married in 1977 and fathered two children, was a tragedy and "story of human proportions which perhaps unfortunately the court is unable to recreate", Mr Justice McKechnie said. He hoped the days when persons with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) were mocked, derided and abused were "long gone".
Dr Foy (55), of Athy, Co Kildare, was registered at birth as Donal Mark Foy but underwent gender reassignment surgery on July 25th, 1992 after being diagnosed as a transsexual. In 1993, she changed her name to Lydia Annice Foy by deed poll. Her marriage ended in the 1990s.
In her proceedings against the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the State, which were supported by the Free Legal Advice Centres, Dr Foy sought to have her birth certificate altered to state her gender as female. The application was opposed by the respondents and by Dr Foy?s wife and daughters, who were notice parties. The family complained altering the birth certificate as sought would render the marriage void and this would have a profound effect on the status of Mrs Foy and the children.
In a judgment running to 130 pages, delivered over four hours today, Mr Justice McKechnie refused the orders sought. He also refused to grant costs to the State against Dr Foy but deferred until July 29th her application for costs against the State.
At the outset of his decision, he referred to the difficulties of the situation for Dr Foy and her family.
"This is a tragedy, not only for the person inflicted in this case, Dr Foy, but also for her immediate family - her two children and Mrs Foy," he said. "Add the extended family, friends, colleagues and others and then one can see the scale of disruption.
Mr Justice McKechnie, who heard the case over 14 days in October/November 2000, ruled, on the basis of findings he made from the medical and scientific evidence that, in his opinion, Dr Foy, at birth, was a male with conforming biological structures.
The issue was whether or not, for the purposes of registering a birth, the law should hold that the criteria in determining sex was not confined to the four biological markers but should also include a fifth indicator, namely brain differentiation, he said.
He ruled that the evidence to date was insufficient to establish the existence of brain differentiation as a marker of sex and the court could not therefore give it the legal recognition which was sought.
Various studies had not established, or not sufficiently established, the existence of brain differentiation as a suggested fifth indicator of sexual differentiation.
He believed the four biological indicators should continue to govern the determination of sex for the purposes of the case and that transexualism could not, at least as of now, found its existence in neurosigns.
The judge said that might be the case with further research some day but his view, from the evidence in the case, was that stage had not yet been reached.