GCN intro: During the Dublin LGBTQ Pride virtual celebrations broadcast from the Mansion House, Lilith Ferreyra-Carroll gave a powerful speech on behalf of TENI. We are delighted to share that speech in full.
Lilith: This speech is dedicated to the memory of my trans sister Rose Wong. Rest in Power Rose.
Pride we must remember, has always been and continues to be a march. A protest originally organised by a bisexual sex worker, that commemorates an uprising sparked by gender nonconforming people of colour against police and state brutality. Pride for all of us, is an ongoing fight for, and celebration of, our very humanity and our beauty!
Pride for me, means every time I walk out my front door as myself, I hold my head up high. I am proud to be a working class, queer, lesbian, neurodivergant and angry transgender woman. I am proud to be part of a community of trans people in Ireland in all of its beautiful complexity. A community who are being attacked in our streets and online, pathologized by our health system and slandered on our national airwaves and newspapers today when they talk about us but not with us. A community that I love, that I honour and who make up a large part of my beautiful, found family – shout out to my trans siblings Brody, Alexis and Charlie and my trans mam Eilís, I love you all. A transgender community that IS the beating heart and soul of the Pride movement.
While some of us in the LGBTQIA+ community tie our knots – including myself recently with my amazing wife Natalia, I love you – the chains that have constricted my trans community have only tightened and been reinforced. In my five short years as a part of my trans community our situation has continued to worsen. To paraphrase the late Larry Kramer, “I have learned what it feels like to be treated like a piece of shit!”
Healthcare for transgender adolescents in this country has collapsed. Waiting lists for a service that now no longer exists have grown and grown and grown. Those adolescents that survive to age out of a waiting list for a service that does not exist at 17 are being tossed to the back of the adult queue to start the wait all over again. Every day that this emergency continues unaddressed, the risk of tragedy, of suicide, will rise. We have to show our young trans people that we care, that we cherish them and that we will fight for them, their families and communities. We have to give our young trans people hope! All of us together, we have to fix this now!
There is no patient representation in the adult national gender service and they are refusing to engage with TENI. This same National Gender Service who lost over a hundred referrals to their waiting lists. The HSE’s own report on our healthcare was also lost, found, publication delayed and is still to be fully acted on. Our health minister will not meet with us.
This year, 420 transgender adults will joining a waiting list for a service that will only see 150 new people annually. At this rate our waiting lists will grow from three years, to five years, to ten, to twenty! And for what, for the honour of being traumatised and made to feel less than human?
The pathologising system and psychiatric model of care trans people are funneled through is described by a clinician in the Irish Times as “highly specialist work”. Well what does this highly specialised work consist of? Trans people in our community have told us in TENI that we are being required to divulge who we’ve slept with and what genitals our sexual partners had, the types of porn we consume, how we masturbate and what goes through our minds when we receive oral sex.
Also, after years of waiting, after these traumatising assessments, the community is telling us that we are being denied healthcare if we are not rich enough by their standards. We are denied healthcare if a family member or partner does not support us entirely. We are denied healthcare if we are neurodiverse. We are denied healthcare! We are denied bodily autonomy! Our gender clinic system is broken, and the community has told us that we have been silenced, unable to speak out or complain for fear that our life affirming treatment be withheld or withdrawn.
Expressing our gender, our truth, our humanity is described in the Irish model of care as crossdressing behaviour. If we are non-binary or don’t conform to a narrow definition of trans experience that the medical world left behind in the last century, we are described as having, and I quote from the Irish Times – “atypical gender dysphoria”. If we are neurodiverse we are described as being and I quote “complicated by functional impairment”.
Our deepest and most sacred sense of ourselves is being categorised and discarded by a reductive model of care as an internal problem, an identity attachment disorder, a paraphilia, rather than the truth, our truest expression of our humanity and our beauty! Trans is beautiful!
Trans healthcare is a form of medicine over a century old. Trans healthcare includes treatments that are routinely provided to cis people by their local GPs. Everyone listening to me today, my cis gay, bi and lesbian siblings and our allies must join us in saying enough is enough and fight with us for what we truly strive – for OUR bodily autonomy, for OUR right to the same treatment as you from our GPs and health system through informed consent in the community, with our dignity intact, without our private lives and beautiful selves being deconstructed and forcibly pathologized, just like cis gay people were up until 1973.
We, the trans community, fought alongside you for marriage equality. We fought alongside you to Repeal the Eighth. We fought alongside you for PrEP. And we continue to fight for parental rights and for our families to be formally recognised. We strive to be true allies with the Traveller community and we fight for Traveller equality and representation. Trans people stand with trans, LGB and straight asylum seekers and refugees in ending Direct Provision. Trans people are sex workers and fight for the rights of all sex workers. We fight for the ending of forced surgeries on intersex children. We fight for disability access. We fight for housing. We fight for justice for George Nkencho. For justice for the survivors of Mother and Baby Homes.
Our trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming community is small. The Traveller community is small. Black, indigenous and people of colour in this LGBT community are small but together, along with our disabled LGBT community, in solidarity we will make the change we wish to see in this world, but we need every one of you to stand together with us as we stand together with you.
Our fight is for the right to informed consent healthcare in the community now, with no waiting lists. Our fight is for our bodily autonomy and access to surgery here in Ireland without the need for fundraisers costing tens of thousands of euros. Our fight is for the right for our under 16s, our nonbinary and intersex siblings to correct their birthcerts.
Our fight is for an end to conversion therapy for LGB and Trans people #SuhailPride. Our fight is for an end to transphobia and hate in this country and for our humanity, our dignity, our beauty and power. This is TENI’s fight, this is my fight, fight with us for our liberation! Happy Pride!
Lilith Ferreyra-Carroll is the National Community Development Officer at TENI. You can watch the full video below.
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