October 29, 2012
Ireland – is transgender the new black?
In the coming weeks, the Irish government is scheduled to announce legislation in relation to transgender people. I should be happy about this. I should be hitting up interflora for my girlfriend and browsing Tesco’s finest cake isle for the local Trans Support Group, but instead I’m anxious – anxious about what our government will force upon already vulnerable people.
As a community, we’re not hopeful.
The current state
While Ireland has made very sudden and swift advancements in human rights legislation, it is still disturbingly far behind. Gays and lesbians can’t marry; they have to resign to civil partnership. They can adopt, but still only singly, cutting off one parent legally. But this is all progress in the eyes of the Irish; transgender people still have no legal protection. An article by Senator Katherine Zappone, published by the Irish Times on the matter, garnered these online comments:
“So if I (with all my equipment intact) put on a dress and sign a form then “hey, presto” and as if by magic I’ll be woman?”
“’Get over it’; you are still a man who has undergone castration”.
As if transgender people don’t have to deal with enough in airports, at graduations, outside toilets and changing rooms, they have to see it all online. And as outlandish as the above comments may seem, hear it from me, living in Ireland for 10 years, these comments are the norm – in cafés, living rooms and clubs.
This upcoming legislation, if the quotes from our Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton are to be believed, will drag apart happy and stable loving marriages and families. Going on legal advice from the Attorney General, the new laws will continue to cause ‘forced divorces’ of transgender people because of the constitutional protection of marriage.
The Irish have had to adapt rapidly to the changes in law, educating themselves in tolerance, and this is to be applauded. Although, as commendable as this is, these changes in law reflect issues that have existed for a long time. These issues are far from new, and it’s time that people recognize that.
The comments above are just disgusting and its time our government acted at the root of this thinking to allow transgender people in Ireland to feel comfortable in their identities and allowed to express it.
The concern of the community here is that the new law will require transgender people go through intrusive surgeries or accept a diagnois of a mental illness in order to gain gender recognition.
Currently trangender people must visit a psychologist and admit Gender Identity Dysphoria before they are offered any further transitional medical help. They have to pay for and attend three expensive private psychologist appointments, convince the psychologist they are gender dysphoric and have them write a letter detailing their private and personal lives. They then take this letter to their GP, have their GP refer them to Loughlinstown Hospital in Dublin and THEN be seen by an endocrinologist and receive tests to check their suitability to hormones.
These are huge hurdles to leap through to access the most basic in trans healthcare. This all before surgery. If they require surgery they must have their hormones at appropriate levels, checked at a clinic which is only open one day a month, and then fly over to Charing Cross Hospital in London for their operations. Trans children are treated the same way.
With treatment so inaccessible for trans people and transphobia so widespread, it’s not suprising that rates of suicide are so high.
In Ireland and the UK, 78% of transgender people have seriously thought about ending their lives and 40% of those have attempted, 22% of those at leest 2 to 5 times. (The Trans Mental Health and Well-being Survey 2012)
These figures show to highlight the need for adequate human rights legislation in relation to transgender people. Transgender people should not have to undergo surgery to identify in their gender. They should not have to be diagnosed as having a mental illness. And they should definitely not have to separate from their loved ones to be who they are.
Recently Meteor, a mobile phone provider, placed this advert into Irish broadcasting. While it it was aimed at having a laugh, the state of society and law facing transgender people currently meant it was grossly offensive and just another cheap slur at another minority group a.k.a. Paddy Power style. TENI, the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland issued a Twitter hashtag, #meteorshame, which trended in Ireland and is a major talking point of the community. The advert serves as an example of the Irish context on transgender rights.
The word is out
One positive that can be seen coming out of this advert is the creation of a dialogue. The meteor ad has created debate amongst not only the people of the trans community but also those outside of it. I’ve heard people debating in my café, I’ve heard them at home and I’ve heard them on the street. The rights of trangender people are coming to the fore and lets goddamn hope the Irish government get it right. As a country, we’re adapting fast but we’ve still many an adaption to take on – I’ll be so proud if we do.
Right, I’m off to bookmark those flowers and cycle down to Tesco to check out the celebration cakes. Wish me luck!
Do we still need pride?
Lesbilicious at Brighton Pride 2012 asking lots of people their opinions on whether or not we need pride.
September 2, 2012