The Dáil has debated the Gender Recognition Bill, which provides for legal recognition to the acquired gender of transgender persons.

This formal legal recognition is for all purposes, including dealings with the State, public bodies and civil and commercial society.

It includes the right to marry or enter a civil partnership in the acquired gender and the right to a new birth certificate.

The effect of the legal recognition is not retrospective but shall be only from the date legal recognition is provided by means of the issue of a gender recognition certificate.

Therefore, all rights, responsibilities and consequences of actions by the person in their original gender prior to the date of recognition shall remain unaffected.

The High Court declared in 2008 that the State was in breach of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights because it did not have a process to legally recognise the acquired gender of transgender persons.

Joanna Tuffy, Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection, gave an opening address on the report.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said "the lack of legal recognition for transgender persons is a significant and long-standing issue".

Ms Burton said the General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill provides for the recognition of the acquired gender of transgender people aged 18 and over and who are not married or in a civil partnership and the legislation will also facilitate persons with intersex conditions.

She said she expects the legislation, including the Committee's Report, will be considered at Cabinet shortly. 

Following Government consideration, the General Scheme of the Bill, with any agreed revisions, will be referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting with a view to the legislation being published later this year. 

She said her aim is "to have this important and ground breaking legislation enacted as soon as possible after that."

Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea said that he appreciates the approach of the department in handing the issue over to the committee to debate but he said the exercise will be quite meaningless unless the recommendations are accepted. 

Mr O'Dea said there is exclusion on a person applying for gender recognition until they are 18 but this flies in the face of the evidence as most people are aware they are transgender before they leave primary school.

He said that there is going to be a huge gap between people realising they are transgender and actually having it recognising.

Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe said that his party have long recognised the need for legislation in the area of gender recognition and the party published its own bill on the area already.