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Gardaí accused of prejudice against transgender person

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Summons issued in defendant’s pre-gender-change name

A TRANSGENDER person has accused An Garda Síochána of being prejudiced against her for issuing summonses against her for drug offences in the male name she once carried.
At last week’s sitting of Castlebar District Court, Supt Joe McKenna made an application to amend the summonses so that the name of the defendant could be corrected. The court heard that the defendant was previously a man but had legally changed her name, and her gender to that of female, in 2016.
Ms Nicola Daly, solicitor for the defendant, asked the court to impose reporting restrictions in order for her client not to be named, due to the sensitive nature of the case. While there were no reporting restrictions imposed, the press members at the court agreed not to reveal the name of the defendant at this stage in the legal proceedings.

‘No longer exists’
In June 6, 2017, the defendant was arrested in Castlebar for drug offences. She subsequently appeared before last week’s court charged with the possession of illegal drugs for sale and supply. Supt McKenna explained that when the defendant was arrested, she gave the male name she had previously been known by, and that this was the reason for the application to amend the summonses.
Ms Daly told Judge Fiona Lydon that while there was a discretion to amend summonses, she argued that this was not the case of a ‘typographical error’ and the person named on the summonses no longer exists.
She explained her client changed her name on June 9, 2016 and received a formal gender recognition certificate in June 2016 and a new birth certificate in July 2016. She said that at the time of the arrest, her client explained this to the Gardaí.
When the summons was issued it was in her old name, and, Ms Daly said, her client is not that person. Ms Daly said the Gardaí had been put on notice of her client’s identity and claimed they had prejudiced her client.
Supt McKenna denied that gardaí were informed by the defendant of her new gender when she was arrested, claiming she gave the name she was known as when she was a male, and also signed the custody record in that name. He said the Gardaí had not prejudiced anyone and that he did not believe there was an issue with his application to amend the name.
When asked by Judge Lydon if her client accepted she had given a different name when she was arrested, Ms Daly said she did not. However, she added her client could not recall what name she signed the custody record in.
Judge Lydon said she would need more evidence to determine the identity the defendant gave at the time of the offence before she could rule on the application. Supt McKenna said he will be able to produce video evidence from the investigating gardaí and the member in charge. Ms Daly said she will be making further legal submissions.
Judge Lydon adjourned the application until November 21 for the evidence to be heard.

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