Several hundred people attended the first public transgender rally, The Rally for Recognition, which took place outside Dáil Éireann last Saturday.
Activists gathered to mark International Day of Struggle for the Depathologisation of Trans-Identities, the campaign which demands to have trans recognised as an identity and not as a mental disorder.
Campaigners from several representative groups including Gay Doctors Ireland, LGBT Noise and BeLonG To 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.
The rally took place on the same weekend of the 16th European conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, which also took place in Dublin.
The rally also coincided and marked the fifth anniversary of the High Court’s landmark ruling in the Dr Lydia Foy case. The ruling found parts of Irish law to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights by not providing any mechanism to recognise a person’s changed gender.
Cat McElroy of the Trans Education & Advocacy collective, highlighted that Ms Foy was still waiting for her gender to be recognised on her birth certificate five years after the original ruling.
Ireland is one of only two EU countries that does not provide a mechanism for gender recognition of trans individuals.
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
“ that 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 [before they can obtain any trans specific health care including gender reassignment surgery] , in itself this is disgraceful”.
Laura Harmon, the USI Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship in her address said
“we demand a better future for trans people in Ireland, respectful and inclusive gender recognition legislation and the depathologisation of trans identities in Ireland is something our members want to see”.