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03 May 2014

Lydia Annice Foy (1947–) dentist, activist.

Donal Mark Foy, did a degree in Dentistry at University College Dublin, 1971, and set up a practice in Athy, Co. Kildare. Foy married a woman in 1977 and fathered two daughters.

As Lydia, she transitioned with surgery in Brighton, UK in 1992, after a judicial separation. The Irish Health Board System contributed £3,000. In 1994 she lost access to her children by order of the Circuit Court.

While her driving licence, and UK and Irish passports give her gender as female, her birth certificate still said male. In 1997 she began an action in a High Court contending that the Births and Deaths Registration (Ireland) Act 1863 did not justify the practice of using solely biological indicators existing at the time of birth to determine sex for the purposes of registration. The case came to court in 2000. Mrs Foy and the daughters contested the plea claiming that it could have "an adverse effect on their succession and other rights". Judgement was reserved for two years: Dr Foy’s claim was rejected due to the lack of Irish or UK legislation that would facilitate the overturning of the existing jurisprudence. Justice McKechnie called on the Government and Oireachtas to deal with the position of transgender people as a matter of urgency:
“Could I adopt what has repeatedly been said by the European Court of Human Rights and urge the appropriate authorities to urgently review this matter”.
Two days later, 11 July 2002 the European Court of Human Rights found in favour of Christine Goodwin's case to have a correct birth certificate (Christine Goodwin v. UK) and awarded costs and expenses of £14,685: “the unsatisfactory situation in which post-operative transsexuals live in an intermediate zone as not quite one gender or the other is no longer sustainable”.

Foy appealed to the Supreme Court, but in the meanwhile the Oireachtas passed the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 bringing the European Convention into Irish domestic law. However Foy was once again refused when she made an application to the Registrar General. She began new proceedings in the High Court seeking a declaration under the ECHR Act that Irish legislation was incompatible with the European Convention regarding the registration and issue of birth certificates. The case was heard in 2007 by the same judge as in 2000 who found the State to be in breach of its positive obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in failing to recognise Dr Foy in her female gender and provide her with a new birth certificate. This was the first declaration of incompatibility to be made under the ECHR Act.

The State appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court. In May 2010 the Government set up an Advisory group “to advise the Minister for Social Protection on the legislation required to provide for legal recognition by the State of the acquired gender of transsexuals”, and a month later withdrew its appeal to the Supreme Court. In 2011 the Advisory published its recommendations for gender recognition legislation. And then nothing.

In February 2013, Foy and others announced that they were returning to court to take the Government to task for inaction.

++In October 2014, the Government finally agreed to recognize her gender and awarded her  €50,000 in compensation.

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