An Irish mother talks about discovering her son was trans, useful support groups and the trials her son will face
In her Irish Times article, Kirsty Donohue told of the troubles Dylan faced leading up to coming out as trans.
“Until the age of 13, Dylan was raised as a girl,” Donohue wrote.”In March of 2015 our family changed when Dylan came out and told us he was trans. The months leading up to this were incredibly hard for him.
“At first I’d assumed that the reason Dylan had become increasingly withdrawn was because he had recently started secondary school and was struggling to adjust to this change in environment.
“But rather than settling down with time, Dylan seemed to become more and more unhappy. Often he sat alone in his bedroom in the dark.”
It was at this time that Dylan told his friends in school that he’d begun to self harm, and was encouraged to confide in a teacher for support.
“He disclosed to school friends that he had begun self-harming and we were lucky that they encouraged him to discuss this with a member of staff at the school,” Donohue wrote.
“Dylan told his teacher he was struggling with his gender identity – he had discovered a name and label for his feelings and already knew he was trans. He just didn’t know how to tell us.”
Kirsty Donohue explained how Dylan left his phone downstairs one night, which she checked only to discover what Dylan had been struggling with.
“On March 13th, 2015 Dylan left his phone downstairs when he was in bed. I think he knew I would check it,” Dylan’s mother said.
“In his messages to friends he had mentioned he was transgender. I was shocked and the days after that were difficult for the whole family.
“Like most people, I had never considered the idea that gender was a spectrum and I was very unaware of trans issues. But, thanks to Dylan, I have learned so much and have a greater awareness of who he is which is what I want for everyone in Ireland.”
Although initially Donohue was taken aback by her sons gender identity, she said that family and friends were supportive once they knew that Dylan was trans.
“You always love your children unconditionally and I wanted to help Dylan become the best person he could be which meant listening to him and helping him in his journey.
“It of course affected my whole family and we had to explain to Dylan’s brothers that they actually had an older brother, not an older sister but we have all been helped immensely by the support of friends and wider family.”
Donohue said that Dylan was “delighted” when he was able to cut his hair short, but is now embarking on the difficult journey of seeking medical treatment.
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“We’ve been blessed with a courageous young man, who, by being open and honest about who he is, will hopefully give so many more trans young people the strength and courage to come out and be themselves too.”
“Dylan is amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing about him.”
“Clinical psychologists from the UK have to come to Dublin to assess Dylan up to six times before he can start any form of treatment,” Dylan’s mother explained.
“This process could take years and Dylan already knows who he is so the slow process of assessment is incredibly frustrating.
“However, key to Dylan’s happiness was joining BeLonG To’s trans youth service ‘IndividualiTy’, who are, in my eyes, life savers.”
“Transparenci (TENI) have also been of immense support to me over the last 12 months in helping me to cope with such a radical change in our family life.”
Kirsty Donohue praises the Gender Recognition Act 2015 as being “one of the most progressive pieces of legislation to protect transgender people in the world”.
However, Donohue noted that the legislation does not provide those under eighteen with the same legal recognition, and indicated that the process for her son would be simpler.
“The process for will be much more arduous, requiring two medical opinions and a court order, which can be a lengthy and cost prohibitive process.”
“Without this piece of legal paper recognising Dylan as a boy, we cannot get him a passport. and so we cannot travel abroad together as a family.
“When Dylan changed his name, I had to swear an affidavit renouncing his old name and confirming that it would no longer be used.
“So we cannot use his old passport and it remains impossible for me to change his name and his gender marker for a new passport. His medical card and many other official documents now display the incorrect gender and this is frustrating for us and particularly for Dylan himself.”
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