The waiting list for trans and non-binary people to receive a psychiatric diagnosis is now 25 months long, according to the This Is Me – Transgender Healthcare Campaign.
Trans and non-binary people must first get a psychiatric diagnosis in order to receive Hormone Replacement Therapy from an endocrinologist.
UCC student Sam Kelly has been on the waiting list for two years and he explained how this is all the more frustrating considering how few resources there are for trans people in Ireland.
“In the span of two years, I have received one letter regarding my wait,” he said. “If I could actually see any of them [psychiatrists] that would be fantastic. Instead, you get bounced around from person to person before anyone will tell you anything.”
DCU student Seán Finley said that due to the lack of education on trans people in medical professions, there is only one gender clinic in Ireland. The clinic, Loughlinstown gender clinic, only deals with patients who are 18 or over.
“If you are under 18 you cannot transition in Ireland – you are referred to England who have a better transgender healthcare system than Ireland,” he said.
He also explained that people under 18 in Ireland can get a psychological assessment though. However, he described the whole medical process as a “conveyer belt system”.
“This system does not work,” he said. “Medical professionals do not see trans individuals as humans – they seem them as medical issues and want to deal with them as quickly as possible. Get them in and out of the system.”
DCU LGBTA society’s Trans and Non-binary Officer Avery Ildefonse said that the lack of medical professionals in Ireland who are qualified to treat trans people creates long waiting times. “I think the long wait is unfair and even life-threatening in some cases,” they said.
Kelly shared a similar sentiment and said that the extra time can be the difference between life and death. He explained how these issues affect trans and non-binary people in rural areas in particular.
The lack of information available also caused him frustration.
“Besides TENI [Transgender Equality Network Ireland], there are no resources and the information you can find is usually far too vague or completely inaccurate. My own GP, while very supportive and helpful, had no idea how to help me,” Kelly said.
He said that before being put on the waiting list, he was sent in the direction of four different people. One was retired while another no longer gave out diagnoses.
“I felt ridiculed, being sent on a wild goose chase to find this elusive list that other people somehow manage to be put on,” he said. “And then once you’re on there, you might as well forget about being treated for two years.”
Finley said that waiting lists seriously affects the mental health of trans people, and can cause depression, anxiety, self-harm and even suicide.
To solve this, he proposed that the HSE should set up a transgender healthcare sector and gender clinics which are composed of a medical team specialised in trans healthcare.
Brendan Fernando Kelly Palenque
Image Credit: PsychCompany