Over 1,200 people on waiting list to access gender-affirming surgery in Ireland

Long waiting times to access gender-affirming surgery in Ireland can be damaging to trans people's mental health.

This article is about waiting times for gender-affirming surgery in Ireland. In the photo, the hands of a doctor writing on a piece of paper with medication bottles on the side.
Image: Via Pexels - Pixabay

As reported by a spokesperson of the National Gender Service, there are currently over 1,200 people in Ireland on the waiting list to get a first appointment to initiate the process of accessing gender-affirming surgery. The long list means that some are forced to wait years just to get an appointment.

Last month, Transgender Europe (TGEU) published a study highlighting how Ireland ranks lowest in the European Union for its availability and accessibility of trans healthcare. These findings seem to be confirmed by the National Gender Service, which provides gender-affirming care and access to surgery to people living in the Republic of Ireland.

As reported by the Irish Examiner, the spokesperson explained how the service does not receive enough funding to be able to meet the increase in demand for gender-affirming care. “Waiting times will continue to increase in the absence of additional investment,” they said. “There are now over 1,200 people on the waiting list.”

The spokesperson continued by saying: “The National Gender Service is aware of concerns about increasing waiting times. At present, waiting times are over three years, which is clearly an unacceptably long wait time.”

In order to tackle the issue, the National Gender Service has called for specific investments and recruitment from the HSE. However, the service seems to be still waiting for a decision. A HSE representative explained that information on such decision would not be available until a later date.

In response to these numbers, Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) Health Officer Noah Halpin said: “A lot of people on those lists would feel their mental health is deteriorating. The waiting time is much more than three and a half years”.

His words come at the same time that advocacy group TransActual published a survey showing that extensive wait times to access healthcare in the UK are negatively impacting trans folks’ mental health, confirming how harmful long waiting lists can be. According to the study, 83.8% of the respondents reported being negatively impacted by waiting for gender-affirming surgery.

Speaking about the issue of long waiting times in Ireland, TENI CEO Tina Kolos Orbán said that the number of people asking for their help in accessing gender-affirming care is increasing. “Trans people are more visible, so it’s not a reflection of growing numbers but it’s a reflection of growing visibility,” they said.

“As society becomes more aware of trans people and more welcoming to trans people, more and more trans people will feel safe to come out and be openly themselves.” they concluded.

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