Community organisations issue response following RTÉ Prime Time episode on transgender healthcare

Ireland's current model for transgender healthcare has been identified as the worst in the EU for its 10-year waiting lists and intrusive and harmful evaluation practices. 

Photograph of a rainbow shaped heart balloon resting in the middle of a giant transgender flag held by a crowd of people, the article is about the RTE transgender healthcare programme
Image: Instagram @tenipics

Transgender activists and organisations are criticising the RTÉ Prime Time interview on transgender healthcare for misrepresenting gender-affirming care and promoting an invasive assessment model that has been widely criticised by trans activists. 

The RTÉ programme featured two clinicians from Ireland’s National Gender Service (NGS), Dr Donal O’Shea and Prof Paul Moran, who claim that gender-affirming healthcare is damaging. Instead, these doctors recommend an “exploratory” model of care which subjects patients to intrusive, dehumanising, and harmful psychiatric evaluation practices. 

The doctors also claimed that Irish children should not be referred to overseas clinics to access care. In reality, children seeking transgender healthcare are referred to clinics in the UK out of necessity, and RTÉ confirmed that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London, which follows a gender-affirming model of care, has not received any complaints from patients or families referred from Ireland. 

Moreover, the current model for trans healthcare in Ireland has been identified as the worst among all EU member states, according to a report published in 2022 by Transgender Europe (TGEU). In addition to the 10-year waiting lists that patients face when attempting to access vital healthcare, these invasive assessments often result in trans people being denied necessary healthcare.

In an Instagram statement, TENI shared that they were invited for comment prior to the show airing, and were disappointed to see that the statement was not included in full during the broadcast.



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TENI declared they are disappointed by RTÉ‘s decision to produce a program that criticises what is widely recognised as best practice for gender-affirming care.

In their full statement, TENI said, “We support the delivery of gender-affirming healthcare that is in line with international standards of care. We strongly encourage those involved in this field in Ireland to learn from our European partners, who deliver more accessible care based on informed consent.”

The statement also mentions the April 2023 European Professional Association for Transgender Health (EPATH) conference which was hosted in Killarney and attended by over 300 clinical experts across Europe. TENI said, “We were deeply disappointed that those involved in delivering gender-affirming healthcare services here in Ireland did not take the opportunity to attend the conference” and hear from leaders in gender-affirming healthcare.

Since the RTÉ programme aired, trans organisations have spoken out against the coverage, insisting that Irish trans youth deserve access to evidence-based treatment and transgender healthcare, including puberty blockers, in Ireland.

In an Instagram statement, Trans Healthcare Action said, “We want to say this loud and clear: trans youth deserve access to gender-affirming care. Trans youth deserve to have their bodily autonomy respected. Trans youth deserve to have their voices heard.”


LGBTQ+ youth organisation BelongTo also commented on the interview, saying: “Relentless public debates about the trans community seriously impact the lives of trans young people. We must consider the impact of these debates on the mental health and well-being of those whose lives are being discussed. Such debates rarely feature the voices and views of young trans people themselves, nor do they focus on the large proportion of trans people living happy, fulfilled lives.”

They added: “Trans people have been marginalised, stigmatised in the media, and denied access to the type of healthcare that is internationally recognised as best meeting their needs.”



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Ruadhán Ó Críodáin from ShoutOut said, “In the context of increased disinformation around LGBTI+ identities, the media must be more responsible in their coverage of trans issues. These debates cause immense harm to trans people.”

Ó Críodáin added, “Trans people know who we are, and our lives are not up for debate. Trans young people, in particular, deserve support to safely express themselves in their schools and communities – they do not need to be told that being trans is something to be discouraged or feared.”

Many are also advocating for more media coverage of trans joy. Mammies for Trans Rights said they would love to see RTÉ give equal airtime to the healthy, joyful lives of trans people across Ireland.


Earlier this year, trans activists launched a campaign demanding access to gender-affirming healthcare in Ireland, and in October, 19 LGBTQ+ organisations signed an open letter to HSE demanding a better model of trans healthcare in Ireland.

The letter demands that the HSE involve the trans community in matters that directly impact their lives, such as developing a new model of care and hiring a Clinical Lead. According to the groups, the HSE has repeatedly failed to engage with the community in decisions that impact healthcare outcomes.



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GCN stands in solidarity with everyone in the transgender community and knows that responses to this broadcast will be difficult for many. TENI wants everyone to know that support is available for anyone who needs it.

BelongTo also has support services available for young people, and they said, “To any trans young people who are feeling scared and worried right now, please know that Belong To and a wide number of organisations are working to create an Ireland where you are equal, safe and valued.”

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