This Is What It’s Like The Be A Young Transgender Person In Ireland
It’s safe to say that life isn’t easy for young transgender and non-binary people in Ireland today.
However, with the help of BelonG – the National Organisation for LGBT+ Youth – the people of Ireland are becoming more aware of what it’s like to grow up in a body you don’t feel comfortable, and what it’s like to be constantly judged for that.
Last week, transgender, and non-binary young people from IndividualiTy launched their TransVisibility Public Awareness Campaign. The campaign is being launched at a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of IndividualiTy, the first Transgender Youth group in Ireland and Europe founded by BeLonG To, the national organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) young people.
This young people lead campaign engaged transgender and non-binary young people throughout the entire process of development and production of five videos that tell the stories of ordinary transgender and non-binary young people to the rest of Ireland.
The campaign’s main aim is to increase the public’s understanding of what it means to be transgender and the barriers faced by young transgender people.
Speaking exclusively to RSVP Magazine about these barriers which young transgender people face every single day, Executive Director of BeLonG Moninne Griffith admitted that these young people face an unbearable amount of hurdles.
”People are not understanding of what being transgender means, misconceptions, stereotypes and myths. People are not accepting of them for who they are – not using correct names or pronouns or being allowed wear the appropriate school uniform.
As well as that, they are being bullied because of who they are in their schools, communities and unfortunately in their homes which can lead to dropping out of school or mental health problems. There is also a lack of awareness amongst people working with young people around trans issues e.g. teachers, doctors etc, which leads to confusion and young people not being supported or not accessing the right care when needed.
There is a lack of ways to be legally recognised for who they are if under 16 – passports, bank accounts, school reports and other official documents. Sometimes this means not being able to travel outside Ireland or open a bank account.
They are being excluded – there is a considerate lack of visibility of other transgender people in general in Irish society, our media, school curriculum, lack of role models. There is also a lot of anti-trans stigma and discrimination – unfortunately some people think its okay to say, post or do hurtful things to transgender people, just because of who they are”.
When asked is there still a substantial amount of stigma against transgender people in comparison to gay, lesbian and bi-sexual people in Ireland since the Marrige Referendum?
Moninne admitted: ”Yes – see our recent polling which shows that although attitudes are changing and public support for transgender people is increasing, there is still much work to be done to eliminate stigma, myths and misconceptions. IndividualiTy and BeLonG To hope that this campaign will address many of these. (Nationally representative poll of Irish adults aged 18 and over carried out by Empathy Research on 3rd February 2017, with a margin of error of +/- 3%.)”
”53% of people agree that trans young people should be able to wear the uniform of their preferred gender in school. 62% of people agree that transgender young people should be able to use their preferred name and pronoun in school”.
”Only 41% of people agree trans young people should be able to use the rest room/ changing facilities of their preferred gender in school”.
Compared to the My World National Youth Mental Health Study, LGBTI young people in this study had: • 2 times the level of self-harm • 3 times the level of attempted suicide • 4 times the level of severe/extremely severe stress, anxiety and depression.
Speaking about the importance of this campaign, and the lasting effect it will have on Irish society, Moninne revealed: ‘‘This is so important. They just want to be themselves and get on with their lives. This is why they decided to develop the campaign – so people could see and hear from real Irish people about what it means to be transgender and how lack of understanding and acceptance can make their lives more difficult than needs be”.
”It was made by them in equal partnership with BeLonG To and the film crew, so it is a true reflection of their voices and the messages they want to convey to the public”.
”In the same way that hearing from same sex couples in loving relationships about why they wanted to get married, helped people understand why it was important to open up marriage to lesbian and gay couples, this campaign will hopefully raise awareness about transgender people in our communities so they can live safe, healthy and equal lives”.
”Hopefully people we really like the videos and will share them widely”.
BeLonG To is the National Organisation for LGBT+ Youth www.belongto.org We run LGBT+ youth groups in Dublin and support over 16 LGBT+ groups outside Dublin.