Today, Trans Day of Remembrance 2020, members of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community have released a powerful open letter in which they reinforce Ireland’s strong ethos of intersectional solidarity and the inclusion of our trans siblings as valuable members of society.
The letter has been signed by multiple organisations including the National Women’s Council of Ireland, MERJ Ireland and Le Cheile.
Below is the letter in full. It is now open for members of the public to sign on change.org.
For decades the transgender community has advocated, marched, and fought for equality, and inclusion. This fight has never once wavered in supporting movements that garner equality for all marginalised communities. Our work, our fight, our campaigns, have all been underscored by two things, intersectionality and solidarity. The transgender community has always worked in advancing the equal rights and acceptance of all without discrimination. For decades the work of the transgender community was tied to working in wider acceptance of queer people, even when our rights were never mentioned, nor advanced. For decades members of the transgender community marched in Pride, stood for women’s equality, all while our rights were left off the table. Internationally, women such as Marsha P. Johnson and others, marched, shouted and demanded gay rights, while every step of the way recognition of transgender identities and the inclusion of transgender rights were left behind. Here in Ireland the transgender community has continued to show that spirit of solidarity. Members of our community have worked along intersectional lines supporting campaigns that aimed increasing women’s rights, and the wider rights of the lesbian, bisexual and gay communities. Transgender people were active in campaigns in 2015 and 2016 that saw the passing of Marriage Equality in Ireland, and in the repeal of the 8th Amendment. Even now, transgender people continue to work for reforms that will increase the rights of gay and lesbian parents in surrogacy and adoption. Never have transgender people sought to diminish the rights, or acceptance of others.
Now, unfortunately, we see a rise in discriminatory organisations and vocal transgender exclusionary activists using Twitter and divisive antics to attempt to a drive a wedge in queer communities between transgender people and fracture our support from feminists. For our decades of solidarity, some seek to repay our community with a call for division based on falsities and bigotry. Let us say unequivocally that the statements of newly launched organisations that seek to defend biology or fight gender identity and expression do not represent the wider LGBTI+ community nor feminists in Ireland. More importantly, they are not organisations at all, they have no governance, no accountability, and are simply Twitter accounts. Further, they are not supported by the wider Irish community. Ireland has dealt with these pseudo-feminists before, and the work of Feminist Ire dealt swiftly with their attacks by stating “Trans women are our sisters; their struggles are ours, our struggles theirs. They were our sisters before any state-issued certification said so and will always be no matter what any legislation says, either now or in the future.” In addressing these accounts it is simple enough to refute them by stating they are not radical, they are not inclusive, and they are not feminists. They are simply misinformed and transphobic. The vitriol and disinformation these accounts and people share does not represent the beliefs of the legitimate organisations and signers of this letter, and together we repudiate their beliefs, and call for an end in giving airtime to their despicable brand of harassment. In Ireland we exist as a strong coalition of intersectional solidarity. As LGBTI+ and feminist organisations we stand together, we march together, we advocate together. We will not allow transphobia to grow and our history of work together will only continue to propel us to a more equal future for all marginalised people.
We call on media, and politicians to no longer provide legitimate representation for those that share bigoted beliefs, that are aligned with far right ideologies and seek nothing but harm and division. These fringe internet accounts stand against affirmative medical care of transgender people, and they stand against the right to self-identification of transgender people in this country. In summation they stand against trans, women’s and gay rights by aligning themselves with far right tropes and stances. They have attacked LGBT+ education in school, attacked anti-bullying campaigns, and attack access to medical services. They stand to remove equality, and cause a legacy of damaging discrimination. In particular, the road to Gender Recognition was long and public, and we in the trans community are thankful for the support of the many who stood by our side. We are thankful to the wider gay, lesbian and bisexual communities that marched and worked alongside of us for legal recognition. We are thankful for the feminists that saw, and still see, trans women as their sisters and use their voice to speak for equality. We are thankful our community was given a chance to present our case to the country, and that we secured so much support for inclusion and legal recognition. A legal battle, that to remind all, was started by Dr. Lydia Foy in 1992 for legal recognition and bodily autonomy. A twenty three year public debate and case for recognition. A battle that was full of intrusive questions, investigating peer-reviewed and solid research, and public debate. Dr. Foy and many other trans women, trans men, and non-binary people, laid bare their lives to Ireland in an attempt to be legally recognised, to have access to affirming medical care and support. As the years wore on our LGBTI+ community came alongside of us, and so did the Feminist Movement in the country. The basis of the argument is that all people, regardless of gender should have access to legal recognition, and should be treated as the best authority on their body. In the twenty years of public transgender advocacy we are thankful for the many steps toward progress that Ireland has taken. The transgender community along with the many supporters and signers of this letter will not stand by and allow toxic voices to continue to spread disinformation that seeks to restrict bodily autonomy, and equality.
Over twenty years Ireland has changed for the better. Many out transgender adults grew up in the Ireland that these discriminatory voices seek to bring back. One in which trans people were forced to be broadly invisible and silent in. An Ireland that forced trans people to be hidden, and intimidated them into the closet due to hate, discrimination and harassment. It was an Ireland that made transgender people feel ashamed and scared about who they were. The Ireland that we came out in versus the Ireland that we are now visible in, is a different Ireland to the one we were lost and shamed in. It is an Ireland where trans people are visible and legally recognised. We cannot and we must not go back from that. We do not want trans kids growing up and thinking they are the only ones who feel the way that they do or that they should be ashamed of who they see. We need an Ireland of inclusion so trans kids are not pushed to suicide, not forced to live in closets, and are not bullied for being born this way. Ireland has made great strides in terms of trans visibility and representation. Now we are dealing with those who fear and hate that and who would do anything in their power to tear us down and drive a wedge between us and the rest of the LGB+ community. We must not let them win. Our lives and our very existence should not be up for debate. We deserve to be treated equally and with respect and to be recognised and accepted for who we are. Our twenty years of progress is monumental, and it must stand boldly against any and all fleeting voices of hate that seek to harm us.
As a trans community we are tired, tired of the hate, and the discrimination levied against us at every turn. Transgender people across Ireland seek to live a full, healthy, and included life. We would call on those that are standing in support with us to continue to use your voice to stand for bodily autonomy, a better medical care system, and full inclusion in society for trans and gender expansive people. We would ask that you do not engage with those that seek to simply project false information, or hateful words. Please do not use your voice to engage with people that are bad faith actors. Instead take time to share why transgender rights matter, how transgender rights make society better, and how equality means a fuller and healthier life for all. Use your voice to call on media to accurately portray trans people, and for lawmakers to value our lives. Use your voice as an ally to speak for inclusion, to speak for acceptance, and to speak for a better life for transgender people. Be visibly proud to support your trans friends, family and colleagues.
We know equality means justice and inclusion for all! Supporting transgender people, and standing for transgender equality does not lessen anyone’s rights. Rather as marginalised people are given more equality, we are all given a more equal society. No one has true equality, while some still live under the wheels of injustice. Anyone that continues to use inaccurate science to denigrate trans people is increasing discrimination. Sex and gender are both spectrums, and the full beauty of that spectrum must be supported and included. No one should be targeted or harassed for who they are. Trans children do not deserve to be sent to schools being fed lies about them. Transgender adults should not be fearful that they might be targeted and killed on their walk home for simply living their lives. These are the worries that these organisations are seeking to bring to Ireland. One that sees a rise in trans suicide, violence, and isolation. An Ireland that is not a land of a thousand welcomes, but of a thousand fears. Transgender rights do not attack feminism, they are a continuation of feminist ideals. Transgender men and women do not lessen the rights or threaten gay and lesbian spaces, because trans men are men, and trans women are women.
It is time as a society and as a queer, feminist, radical community we no longer allow bigotry to blossom. In no uncertain terms we agree that trans lives matter, trans people should be given full rights, and trans people should be included fully in society. Trans people are our friends, neighbours, colleagues, classmates and loved ones. We will not allow anyone to promote hate, to trade in bigotry, or to attack legislation, education and programs that affirm transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people. We stand boldly against the rise of exclusionary rhetoric, and name it for what it is, harassment and transphobia. It is not based in truth, it comes with no claims in fact, and is a dog whistle to bigots. We know that by and large these false narratives are not native to the queer and feminist communities of Ireland. These ideas are representative of outsiders that have not worked, laboured, or known the trans community in Ireland. These fringe groups have not been in the trenches for equality. They do not understand, nor appreciate, that together we built a radical and inclusive coalition for equality.
This radical and inclusive coalition denounces their platforms of disinformation. We reject their inaccurate science. We reject their aims, goals, and campaign for discrimination. Ireland is better when it is diverse and equal. Our diversity and equality has been showcased by our coalition of trans, queer, and feminist leaders who in their unity have won tremendous legislative victories that have improved the lives of gay and lesbian couples, women’s rights, and transgender recognition. Our unity, and our work will not stop. Our focus is now on strengthening our resolve, turning away hate, and continuing to support the trans and gender expansive community members from those that would seek to harm them. We will not be bullied, we will not be silenced, and we will not allow transgender rights to be maligned. We move forward with hope and unity for a better world, and a better Ireland.
Together in #IrishSolidariT with:
Transgender Equality Network of Ireland (TENI)
National Women’s Council of Ireland
National LGBT Federation (NXF)
Bi+ Ireland Network
Gay Health Network
Trans & Intersex Pride
BRÓD West Cork
Cork Trans Network
Irish Network Against Racism (INAR)
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI)
Migrants and Ethnic Minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ Ireland)
Abortion Rights Campaign
AMACH! LGBT+ Galway
Sex Workers Alliance Ireland
Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT)
This Is Me Campaign
Éirénne Carroll, CEO TENI
Sara R Phillips
Aoife Martin (she/her)
Denise Breen (she/her)
Ben Power (he/him)
Leighton Gray (they/them)
Tina Kehoe (she/her),Mother
Taryn De Vere (she/her), Quare Media
Andrew Galvin (he/him)
Audrey Beattie, Human Being & Mother
Mary Doolin-Murphy, Mother
Fiona O’Rourke, Mother
Brian Farrell, Dad
Loretta O’Reilly, Mother
Aleks Mooney (he/him)
Declan Walshe, Father
Dani O’Connor (he/she)
Jen O’Shea (she/her)
Siobhan Thomas (she/her)
Vicki Marchant (she/her), Mother
Muiris Mahon, Father
Maureen Mahon, Mother
Sam Blanckensee (they/he)
Dr. Chryssa Dislis (she/her, Parent
Dr. Stuart Neilson (he/him), Parent
Donnacha O Mesra, Dad
Pierce O Meara (he/him)
Ollie Bell (they/them)
Micah Neilson (he/him)
Nyree Fitzpatrick (she/her), Mother
Joe Donohoe (he/him), Father
Jo Ellen Donohoe, Family
Tom Donohoe, Family
Conny Donohoe (she/her), Family
John Mansfield (he/him)
Geraldine Brown (she/her)
Fern Higgins Atkinson
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