Transgender campaigners call for gender-neutral language in Ireland’s abortion law

Transgender and non-binary campaigners have called for Ireland abortion legislation to contain gender-neutral language.

In the aftermath of the referendum, which saw Ireland vote by a landslide to repeal the country’s near-total ban on abortion, campaigners highlighted that the legislation will affect trans people too.

Noah Halpin, founder of the This Is Me – Transgender Healthcare Campaign, told Irish magazine GCN: “Despite what some may believe, men can become pregnant too.

“There are tens of thousands of transgender men and non-binary people in Ireland who can conceive, and when speaking about reproductive healthcare, we must always be mindful of that.”


Supporters celebrate at Dublin Castle following the result Irish referendum result on the 8th amendment (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Halpin said it was “imperative” that the upcoming legislation contained inclusive language to ensure transgender and non-binary people were not hindered by “legal barriers” when accessing abortion.

“By using the term pregnant people in new legislation, as well as protecting women, we are also protecting and respecting all gender identities should a crisis pregnancy occur,” Halpin said.

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) tweeted: “To help clarify with some of the questions we’re seeing in our mentions: Trans men & non-binary people can get pregnant. The proposed legislation does not include them.

“Legislation will obviously overwhelmingly affect women & girls, but trans inclusion doesn’t take away their rights!”

Repeal the 8th (Getty)

Repeal the 8th (Getty)

Bella Fitzpatrick, the managing director at Ireland’s LGBT+ charity Shout Out, also commented on Twitter: “If you’ve been passionate about Repeal but have a problem with the law being trans inclusive in its language please just ask yourself why that might be.

“You can legally be a man in Ireland & need an abortion. Laws should reflect that & include NB [non-binary] people too.”

Campaigner Mara Clarke, the founder of the charity Abortion Support Network, wrote ahead of the referendum: “We believe that individual women (or people, as we know a handful of our clients have identified as trans men) are best placed to decide whether they are ready and able to parent now or ever.

“We also know the currently law has far more devastating impact on poor and marginalised women. We also know that women desperate not to be pregnant will do desperate things, including risking criminal prosecution by taking safe but illegal early medical abortion pills or by taking dangerous action to self-terminate.”

A man walks in front of a pro-choice mural urging a yes vote in the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution (Getty)

In 2015, Ireland passed the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to legally change their gender without needing medical intervention or assessment by the state.

In the UK, citizens require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Many people choose not to do so, as it can be a lengthy and invasive process.

This week, Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said a new abortion law would be in place by the end of the year.