HSE takes steps towards delivering healthcare for trans youth in Ireland

New recruitment to support the delivery of the National Gender Service is welcomed by TENI as a step towards comprehensive trans youth healthcare.

The torso of a man holding a trans flag

The HSE is recruiting a new Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who will lead a multidisciplinary team within mental health services to support the delivery of the National Gender Service in an important step for trans youth healthcare.

The move has been welcomed by TENI and trans advocates. Currently much of the psychological support for Irish trans youth is being outsourced to the UK, mainly at the Tavistock clinic in London.

“It’s great news because it means that we will get the process rolling and get the child and adolescent service back to active. So, hopefully, that will mean we can start addressing the growing waitlist and offering affirming healthcare to our trans children across the country,” TENI CEO Éirénne Carroll told TheJournal.ie.

However, she also said that much more needs to be done and that Ireland can’t keep relying on other countries to provide healthcare for trans youth. At the end of last year the HSE released a report with one of the main recommendations being to “move from the current system of psychological support provided by Tavistock Clinic (in London) for those under 18 years of age to ensure services are provided and delivered by the Irish Health Service.”

The recruitment of a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist will begin to address that recommendation. Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin also recently appointed a Paediatric Endocrinologist who will take up the role later this year. Part of their role will be to work with the CAMHS/Gender Identity Development (GID) service and in particular with the psychiatrist once they are hired.

TENI says that there are around 100 young people currently waiting for access to some form of trans healthcare. The waiting lists can last for years and there are two separate ones for adults and children. This means that a child could be on a waiting list from the age of 16 and receive no help by the time they turn 18 but be transferred over to the adult service and face an additional wait.

There are also still massive holes in the healthcare services available to trans adults. For a trans man who wants to avail of top surgery, they are forced to go abroad.

Fionn Collins, an Irish trans man, recently told Irish Youtuber Clisare’s podcast of the ordeal of having to go outside of Ireland to get the surgery, particularly in the last year during the coronavirus pandemic. He was forced to travel to Poland for the procedure which had been booked 18 months previously.

Upon his return to Ireland he was feeling unwell and fluid (seroma) had started to build up on his chest. He went to an emergency department but was initially told he could not receive aftercare for a surgery he had abroad. He then tested positive for Covid-19 and he was sent home before eventually having the seroma drained the next day. The whole ordeal was extremely expensive and mentally taxing.

The HSE’s new recruitment to support the delivery of the National Gender Service is very positive but there is still a long way to go for proper healthcare for trans people in Ireland.

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