Thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday to celebrate trans and intersex pride and protest for demands including free GP-led trans healthcare, the banning of intersex genital mutilation (IGM), compulsory intersectional relationships and sex education (RSE), the separation or church and state, and an end to homophobia and transphobia in Ireland.
The group met at the Garden of Remembrance at 2pm and marched towards Merrion Square with chants including “transphobia ruins lives, RTÉ apologise”, “when trans rights are under attack, fight back”, “we don’t want your corporations, we want trans liberation”, “2, 4, 6, 8, separate church and state” and “what do we want, trans healthcare, when do we want it, now”.
There were representatives in attendance from a number of groups including the Socialist Feminist Movement Ireland, the National Women’s Council (NWC), SIPTU, the Social Democratic Party and others, as well as grassroots groups and individuals marching to show solidarity and express joy in their identities.
Officers from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) also marched in solidarity with trans and intersex students across Ireland.
In a statement to The University Times, USI President Beth O’Reilly said: “USI and our officers were proud to attend Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin today to stand in solidarity with trans and intersex students across the island.”
“Corporate rainbowashing does nothing to help advance trans rights in this country and only water down the radical demands of the LGBTQIA+ community. We will continue to fight alongside trans students for an end to the transphobia that is so pervasive in all areas of Irish society,” they added.
“The intersectional liberation of all queer people is not limited to just pride month, and we must continue to learn and grow as allies year round.”
The march saw a number of speakers address the crowd including journalist and activist Izzy Kamikaze, Northern Irish union and LGBTQ+ rights activist Clare Mullaly, Trans Equality Network Ireland (TENI) representative and activist Lilith Ferreyra O Carroll, researcher and activist with Trans Healthcare Action Jessica, TENI board member Delroy Mpofu speaking on behalf of those living in Direct Provision, traveller activist Mary McDonagh who read an account on behalf of a trans traveller man, activist and co-founder of Intersex Ireland Olive Wilson, and founder of Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin Ollie Bell.
Addressing the crowd at the Garden of Remembrance, Kamikaze gave a passionate address calling for the Irish media to apologise for previous transphobic coverage, highlighting an RTÉ Liveline broadcast in which a three-day debate was held containing transphobic rhetoric.
She also decried the practice of conversion therapy. “I think the general public misunderstands conversion practices, especially when the phrase ‘conversion therapy’ is used. The main market for conversion practices is usually struggling parents of young gay or trans people who have recently disclosed that they are gay or trans or who appear to their parents to be exploring their gender identities, gender expression, or sexuality.”
“I believe parents who engage conversion advocates are being exploited. I do not believe that most of those parents are evil people, I believe they are confused and upset people who are encountering a challenge in their lives that they are not prepared for”, she said.
“The parents themselves may not mean to be abusive. They’re upset and confused. They’re scared for their children. Always there are people who are willing to exploit those confused and upset parents, risking irreparable harm to their relationships with their children,” she continued.
Describing her own coming-out stories and those of her friends, she said: “When I came out 40 years ago, I heard of many horror stories from trans people who had been beaten by family members because of their sexuality”.
“One of the most frequent punishments was cutting a young person off from their friends. Others included confiscating or destroying any of the young person’s clothing that was seen as ‘too gay’ or in some way gender inappropriate”.
In a final call to action, she emphasised that the moderate and radical sides of the trans rights movement should be cooperating as the two are working towards the same goal.
“No change ever happened without having, on the one hand, the people who are willing to sit down at the table and negotiate the changes, on the other hand, the people outside who are threatening to kick the door down”, she said.
“The focus of the anti-trans movement at the moment is not just anti-trans, it’s anti all of us”.
Arriving at Merrion Square, the crowd cheered as TENI representative Lilith Fererra O Carroll took the stage. O Carroll highlighted the injustices faced by those waiting to receive gender-affirming healthcare in Ireland, saying “It is now 561 days since the collapse of adolescent healthcare in Ireland. How is this cherishing our children equally?”
“The current process requires us to subject ourselves to hours long excruciating psychiatric assessments that pathologise us”, she continued, “forcibly out ourselves to friends and family to access hormones and surgery.”
“We are the experts on our own needs, not multidisciplinary teams with a maverick model of care that goes against international best practice… excessive gatekeeping is a form of conversion therapy.”
O Carroll continued: “we call on those in positions of influence who are stoking the flames of hate and division to take responsibility and end this uncalled for and unwanted culture war.”
Following O Carroll, researcher and activist Jessica explained what happens when trans people are forced to wait for healthcare and gender-affirming treatment.
“You know what’s happened in the six years that you’re waiting to maybe get a chance to get puberty blockers? Puberty”, she stated.
“There’s been a recent resurgence of young people accessing drugs to aid gender transition on the black market. We should teach GPs how to prescribe HRT to trans people under a human rights based informed consent model. Why not have GPs prescribe puberty blockers on demand, once puberty has started?”
Delroy Mpofu, speaking on behalf of trans people living in Direct Provision, outlined the difficulties often faced by those in Direct Provision, paying tribute to Sylva Tukula, a trans woman who died living in a male-only Direct Provision centre.
“I challenge you all to stand up for all minority groups, for people who cannot speak for themselves. People in direct provision are scared of standing up for themselves because they are scared their cases will be denied and they are scared they won’t get their status in Ireland”, he said.
Elaborating on the barriers faced by minority groups, traveller activist Mary McDonagh read an account on behalf of a trans traveller outlining his experience coming to terms with both of his identities.
“I find the struggles between the trans community and the travelling community so similar and immigrants and asylum seekers who are also told looking for safe homes is wrong”, the account read.
“We face a lot of the same issues: difficulty in getting jobs, difficulties in getting safe homes, mental health, social acceptance.”
Speaking on behalf of Intersex Ireland was Olive Wilson, a Human Rights activist and one of the group’s founders.
She told the crowd that despite being a “tiny minority” making up only two per cent of the population, intersex people deserve bodily autonomy.
“When a child is born, the first thing parents are asked is ‘what gender is your child?’. This puts terrible pressure on parents to fit that binary from day one”, she said.
She added: “Parents experience pressure to change their baby’s bones because a lot of people blame parents for their child being intersex. This child is suddenly left dealing with a situation where they are being forced into a gender which is not them”.
“There needs to be a HSE-funded counselling service for children in this country who have intersex conditions.”
Rounding out the day was Ollie Bell, founder of Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin. They outlined the reason for making the pride parade a protest march in addition to a celebration, saying that they wanted to return Pride to its roots.
“Pride started as a radical protest against police brutality, with the Stonewall riots and a fight back against LGBTQ+ oppression,” they said. “Although we’ve seen tremendous progress in Ireland with marriage equality and repeal, we still have so much to fight for.”
“We’ve seen cuts after cuts to our healthcare service, forcing many people to go private, sending the message that if you want healthcare, you have to pay for it. There’s no trans healthcare in Ireland for anybody under the age of 17 and those over 17 are forced to be assessed with an outdated model of healthcare.”
“Although we recognize the needs of the trans and intersex communities are different, our struggles are the same: a right to bodily autonomy, a right to self-determination and a right to self-organize for our acceptance and liberation in society”, they finished.