Irish dancers stand in support with trans competitors with petition

The petition in support of trans athletes in Irish dancing was launched after a trans minor faced backlash for winning at a recent competition.

This article is about trans women in Irish dancing. In the photo, legs of people performing Irish dancing, with the traditional shoes on.
Image: Via Shutterstock - shellyallenart

Earlier this month, a trans dancer faced hateful backlash after she won an Irish dancing competition, with people accusing her of “robbing” other competitors of the victory and petitions launched in the US to protest against it. Following the backlash, a counter petition was launched by Irish dancers to express solidarity with trans competitors and defend their places in the competitions.

As reported by the Irish Central, a trans dancer, who is a minor, recently competed in the female category at the Southern Region Oireachtas, a regional event where competing dancers can qualify for the North American Irish Dancing Championships and World Irish Dancing Championships.

When the trans teen won her age group, she faced opposition, with people saying she had “robbed” other competitors of a world-qualifying spot and citing supposed “biological differences”. They also launched two online petitions calling for the exclusion of trans women from Irish dancing competitions.

In response to this, An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha (CLRG), described as the oldest and largest competitive Irish dance organisation in the world, released a statement in support of trans women. The organisation explained that there is “established precedent” allowing Irish dancers to compete in the category that reflects their gender identity.

Moreover, a petition was launched to support trans Irish dancers and counter the actions of the other petitions previously started. Launched by Gabrielle Siegel, an adult Irish dancer based in Connecticut, the petition states: “We are proud that our sport has established itself as a leader in the world of athletic competition and has chosen the path that aligns with kindness, science, and humanity.”

“We, the Irish dance community, stand in strong support of our transgender community members, now and forever. Irish dance is a sport that developed and thrived in the face of discrimination. We, as a community, know firsthand that kindness, acceptance, and truth prevail,” the petition continues.

“We look forward to a future where dancers not only continue to compete in the category that aligns with their gender identity but are celebrated universally by all members of their community,” it further reads. “Trans dancers have the right to compete. Trans dancers have the right to succeed. We stand strong in alignment with the transgender Irish dance community.”

Speaking to the Irish Central, Siegel said: “When I first saw the transphobic backlash to this dancer’s win, I literally started shaking. It was bad enough to see so many people using baseless accusations to try and undermine anybody’s success. But what put me over the edge was seeing people hurl outright cruelty at a child.”

“I remember what it was like to be a teenage girl,” Siegel continued. “I was a closeted member of the LGBTQ+ community at that age, and I genuinely can’t imagine being subjected to that level of harassment or bullying at that age.”

The teacher of the teen also spoke to the site, saying that it had been a “challenging week” for the dancer, but that they were “focusing on supporting her as we always have within our school, and sharing the messages of support we receive with her.”

To sign the petition in support of trans women in Irish dancing, click here.

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