Researchers call for Transgender awareness training for working

by Orla Dwyer

The researchers' work revealed a frustration from participants at the lack of trans awareness and recognition from education and health workers. Image Credit: Think Progress

Transgender awareness training is needed for many professionals in Ireland, according to a study from researchers in Cork.

Fiachra Ó Súilleabháin and Máire Leane, who lecture future social, youth and community workers in University College Cork, held the study with a group of young transgender people. Their work revealed a frustration from participants at the lack of trans awareness and recognition from education and health workers.

“It shouldn’t be up to minority groups to explain or justify their existence, it’s up to the majority to welcome and cherish them,” Ó Súilleabháin told the Irish Examiner on March 12th.

The study showed that the young trans people felt more uncomfortable than unsafe about things such as being careful holding hands with their partner in public.

One participant in the study said that every trans person they knew had to explain being trans to counsellors.

“It is important to recognise the significant socio-legal changes which have taken place in Ireland with the Gender Recognition legislation and recent announcement of increased health service provisions for trans people. What is striking in our work with third-level students is how gender binaries (man/woman, male/female) continue to be embedded into Ireland’s culture,” Ó Súilleabháin said on behalf of himself and Leane.

The Irish Government approved the Gender Recognition Act in July 2015. This allows all adults to legally self-declare their own gender identity.

“Based on our research with trans and non-binary youth, we are of the opinion that gender (and sexualities) studies should be included in the curricula of academic programmes for professions. This would ensure that students get trans-awareness training during their third-level education and training,” he added.

In March, UCC became the first Irish college to fly the Transgender Pride Flag.

Dean O’Reilly, DCU LGBTA society chairperson, thinks there is a definite need for more professional training on this issue.

“There are still many individuals that are not aware, are not informed and do not understand what transgender issues are nor do they feel they should know anything about them. From things such as aiding the coming out process to more basic necessities such as healthcare… greater education on trans and non-binary issues is imperative in contemporary Ireland,” said O’Reilly.

Orla Dwyer

Image Credit: Think Progress