Four young transgender people on growing up, coming out and being accepted
Sat, Sep 29, 2018
There’s no simple answer to the question of what it’s like to grow up transgender in Ireland in 2018.
On the one hand, “Ireland is a world leader in trans inclusion”, says Toryn Glavin, a 24-year-old transgender woman from Wexford, and campaigner for trans equality.
Glavin is referring, in part, to the 2015 Gender Recognition Act, which provided an administrative process for transgender people over 18 to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender. The process is also open to people aged 16-18, though they have to go through the Circuit Court and get a doctor’s certificate and parental consent.
She also points to a kind of “blasé attitude” among Irish people that, she says, can be very empowering for trans people. “They’re not trying really hard to prove what trans allies they are, and they’re not always questioning your identity either.”
A trans child described being pushed down the stairs in school, and pushed into the showers in their uniform, where they were soaked
At the same time, the picture is far from rosy. Suicidality, bullying and harassment, violence and systemic discrimination disproportionately affect the trans community everywhere in the world, and Ireland is no exception.
Society hasn’t kept pace with legal acceptance, says Moninne Griffith, the executive director of BeLonG To, who chaired a review group of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act.
In its report published last summer, the cross-party group recommended that the administrative process be extended to young people of all ages, subject to parental consent, which would “make Ireland the most progressive country in the world for trans equality”, as well as equality for non-binary and intersex people.
On a day-to-day basis, however, “it is still really tough to be transgender in Ireland”. In schools, communities, and homes, the experience is marked by “a fear of rejection, isolation, bullying, stigma and prejudice. As a result, young people are experiencing high rates of depression and anxiety, self-harm and suicide.”