Last week on Trans Day of Remembrance 2020, Transgender NI launched a petition calling on the Minister for Health, Robin Swann calling for “urgent support for trans communities.”
They explained on their Facebook page that “TDOR is an important and sombre day for trans communities across the world, as it is the day in which we remember those who have died as a result of transphobic violence, institutionalised discrimination & abuse and lack of government action to protect trans communities.
“This has been an incredibly tough year for trans communities: lockdown has had a massively isolating effect, and since the onset of the pandemic two young trans men that we know of have taken their own lives. We won’t know the full impact on our communities for many years.
“We’re calling on the Minister for Health to recognise the impact this crisis in gender-affirming care is having on trans communities and put in place alternative care arrangements for trans individuals experiencing issues while awaiting the outcome of the review of gender identity services.”
Transgender NI while calling for support outline in the petition the dire situation facing trans people in Northern Ireland:
Since the start of 2018, no new patients have been seen in the Northern Ireland adult gender identity clinic. There are now over 400 on the waiting list, some of whom have been on this list for over 4 years. While a review of these services was commissioned late last year, progress has been slow, and the Department and HSCB have been unwilling to meaningfully include and consult with trans communities.
As a result, the majority of trans people in Northern Ireland who are currently accessing gender affirming care are doing so through private services, including those in England and further afield, or through self-medication. Those who self-medicate have been doing so to reduce the harm that is being done to them by the failure of statutory services to provide support and care while this review is ongoing and in the two years before it was commissioned.
Director of Transgender NI, Alexa Moore told The Irish News, “It is imperative that trans people are able to access healthcare interventions in a timely and human rights compliant manner – where this support is delivered and social stigma is tackled, trans people are able to thrive and contribute significantly to our society, culture and communities,” she says.
“The systemic issues affecting trans people in healthcare, education, housing and many other areas are preventing us from dealing with this mental health epidemic, and as such a systemic approach to supporting trans communities must be taken to address this.”
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