Sligo LGBTQ+ community gathers in protest of trans healthcare issues in Ireland

Sligo Inclusive Pride held a protest rally outside the local General Post Office, bringing attention to issues the trans community is facing.

A group of Sligo Inclusive pride members, holding an Irish flag, a progress Pride flag and two trans Pride flags in front of the Sligo GPO.
Image: Cat Bonner Photography

On Monday, August 7, Sligo Inclusive Pride held a protest rally outside the local General Post Office (GPO), mainly bringing attention to issues the trans community is facing.

Event organiser and spokesperson, Harper Rooney, spoke in particular about trans healthcare. She highlighted that Ireland has recently been ranked as the worst country in the EU for providing healthcare to trans, intersex and gender non-conforming patients.

She also referenced Ireland’s National Gender Service, which has only one clinic with a growing waiting list, sometimes of about ten years, for a first appointment. 

“I have been treated with more respect by elderly gentlemen walking up and down the streets of Sligo town than I will be by the doctors at this healthcare centre,” Harper stated, criticising the current medical approach to gender dysphoria.

At the protest, she also advocated for an informed consent model of healthcare that would “Provide GPs with the resources they need to allow patients to self-declare and provide direct treatment at local clinics,” adding that it would improve the lives of trans people, not only in Sligo but all across Ireland. 

“The (current) model expects to cure you of your dysphoria, to figure out what problems there are, to fix you, but that isn’t how gender identity works. People have to find their own journey out and doctors should be there to empathise and understand and help the trans patient figure that out together,” the organiser of the event stated.

Pippa Black of the Sligo Disabled Persons’ Organisation (DPO) picked up on this, saying that part of their activism is public education about transitioning from the medical model of disability, which focuses on a person’s impairments, to the social model of disability, which aims to remove social barriers to full inclusion, whether they are physical, such as steps, or notional, such as stereotypes.

Making the connection to trans issues, Pippa said: “Both communities need to move beyond the limits of the medical model and towards social inclusion and acceptance, which is a vitally important aspect of healthcare.”

Saoirse Black, who was speaking as a non-binary, disabled person and DPO member, further put a focus on the intersectional discrimination faced by neurodivergent people, who are often turned away on account of their autism or ADHD diagnosis when seeking gender-affirming treatments.

Síog Bancroft, speaking from her experience as a homeless single mother, stated that 53% of all homeless families in Ireland are lone-parent families. After three and a half years on the social housing waiting list, she questioned how a homeless mother, a survivor of domestic abuse with PTSD, autism and hypermobility like herself, is not a high enough priority for social accommodation in Sligo.

Sligo Inclusive Pride is a new, intersectional organisation with a civil rights focus, and it plans to hold its first AGM before the end of this year. New members are welcome and interested parties can email the organisation at [email protected]

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