Several hundred people attended the first public transgender rights rally, The Rally for Recognition, which took place outside Dáil Éireann on Saturday October 20th.
Activists gathered to mark the International Day of Struggle for the Depathologisation of Transgender* Identities, the campaign which demands to have trans recognised as an identity and not as a mental disorder. Members of the Union of Students of Ireland (USI) also took part in the rally.
Ireland is one of only two EU countries that does not provide a mechanism for gender recognition of trans individuals.
Campaigners from several representative groups including Gay Doctors Ireland, advocates LGBT Noise and BeLonGTo Youth Services called for legislation to be introduced which would give full legal recognition for trans people.
Several speakers called for the removal of the categories of gender dysphoria and gender identity disorders from the medical diagnosis manuals of the World Health Organisation, as well as calling for the provision for trans specific health care.
Chairperson of DCU LGBTA, Oisín Cotter said: “While LGB people have been seeing increased support and acceptance in recent years, trans people unfortunately still face adversity in Ireland.
“Controversial and derogatory depictions of trans people in Irish media such as the Paddy Power and Meteor adverts promotes an unhealthy perception of trans people, especially students who might find they don’t have any support or acceptance.”
The activists accused Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, of delaying the introduction of legislation to protect the rights for transgendered people who remain anonymous in Irish law. The minister was urged by campaigners to provide gender recognition legislation that will not include pathologisation of trans people.
Vanessa Lacey, a development worker for Transgender Equality Network Ireland, addressed the rally. She said: ”the effects of trying to access health care in this country can be very challenging and in many cases can lead to depression and self-harm and in some cases suicide. Many of the kids who need access to healthcare need to be diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, in itself this is disgraceful.”
The rally took place on the same weekend of the 16th European conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association, which also took place in Dublin.
“The rally was a fantastic achievement for trans rights and visibility in Ireland,” Cotter said.