Representatives of the This Is Me transgender health campaign met with Minister for Health Simon Harris yesterday to discuss the problems facing Ireland’s trans community in accessing healthcare.
The campaign is led by transgender individuals with lived experience and extensive knowledge of the Irish healthcare system and its failings, who have emphasised the urgency of the campaign and their own ability to offer solutions to the crisis.
“Trans-specific healthcare in Ireland is at a crisis point,” said campaign founder Noah Halpin during a sit-in at the Department of Health building on Baggot Street earlier this month. “And this is being largely ignored. People are dying because of this. We have viable solutions.”
Yesterday’s meeting was one that campaign organisers had been wanting for over a year. According to Halpin, Harris had promised multiple times over the past 13 months that he would meet with the campaigners but had not followed through on his commitment until this month. He finally agreed to a set date and time when campaigners organised their Department of Health sit-in on April 11.
A key demand of the This Is Me trans healthcare campaign is that the current psychiatric model of healthcare, which sees trans people forced to wait for psychiatric evaluations before they can access treatments such as hormone replacement therapy, be replaced with the informed consent model.
Explaining the failings of the current system at a protest last year, Halpin said “We currently have a psychiatric model of care. This is outdated, this is damaging and it’s no longer practised in most developed nations in the world, especially in the western world.
“What is best practice is called WPATH, which stands for the World Professional Association for Transgender Healthcare.
“This model is one of informed consent and it is the model that the majority of the developed world uses. Here in Ireland the HSE and the Department of Health have continuously stated on public record to us that they do practice WPATH. However, we have continuously told them that in practice it isn’t happening.”
Halpin explained that there is currently a two-and-a-half year waiting list for trans and gender-variant people who need to see a psychiatrist and gain access to one of the two endocrinologists in this country who will prescribe HRT.
“That two-and-a-half year wait is just devastating for people. It’s traumatic. People who have never struggled with mental health difficulties are now struggling with mental health difficulties while they wait.”
Yesterday’s conversation with the Minister for Health went well, with Harris promising a follow-up meeting.
Today, representatives of the #ThisIsMe Campaign met with Minister for Health @SimonHarrisTD to discuss access to transgender healthcare in Ireland.
The Minister was extremely engaged & receptive. We thank him for his time today & look forward to our follow up meeting next month.
— ThisIsMe Campaign (@ThisIsMeIreland) April 25, 2019
Campaign organisers posted on Twitter to say “The Minister was extremely engaged & receptive. We thank him for his time today & look forward to our follow up meeting next month.”
Halpin said “Today was a step forward in trying to collectively improve the healthcare system for transgender people in Ireland. @SimonHarrisTD listened intently to the information we provided and will look into this further prior to our next meeting.”
“We are very pleased to have finally met with Minister Harris to discuss the issues surrounding trans healthcare in Ireland,” Halpin told GCN today. “During this hour long meeting, we had the opportunity to explain to the Minister, the shortcomings of the system for transgender people, presenting him with evidence of such, as well as being invited to suggest viable solutions.”
He added “We are very grateful for the time the minister has and is continuing to give us, and are optimistic that he will continue to work with us going forward to generate change.
“The This Is Me Campaign will continue to work towards a safe, accessible, best practice model of care for transgender people in Ireland until that is achieved.”
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