Youth Work sector demand action on Trans and non-binary healthcare crisis in Ireland

Leading youth work organisations and youth workers say they are "not equipped to deal with the hopelessness and disappointment" caused by this crisis.

Close up of doctor's uniform, stethoscope around this neck and pens in their breast pocket
Image: Image by Darko Stojanovic from Pixabay

Representatives from Belong To, Foróige, Youth Work Ireland, and the National Youth Council of Ireland as well as 70+ youth workers have all signed a letter calling for action to be taken to correct the current healthcare crisis Irish LGBTQ+ youth are facing.

The letter was addressed to Ministers Stephen Donnelly TD (Minister for Health) and Roderic O’Gorman TD (Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth), as well as Paul Reid, CEO of the HSE, and outlines the urgent need for gender-related healthcare services for trans and non-binary youth living in Ireland.

The Crumlin Hospital-based gender identity adolescent service closed to new referrals in December 2020 and shortly after that, in January 2021, referrals to the UK Tavistock Clinic halted as well. Even prior to these collapses in gender-affirming care for Irish youth, there was a waitlist of over three years for access to Crumlin’s service. Currently, adolescents are directed to the adult service once they reach 17 years old, with a waiting period projected to be up to ten years.

“The situation is now at breaking point,” warns Moninne Griffith, CEO of BeLonG To. “Trans and non-binary young people who have sought gender-related healthcare since January 2021 are being referred to a service that simply does not exist.”

The writers call for government ministers and HSE officials to urgently “discuss the status of the multi-disciplinary gender identity service for children and adolescents … and the interim measures to be put in place pending the establishment of this multi-disciplinary gender identity service.” The government and the HSE had previously committed to addressing the above as far back as December 2020 in three different reports and publications.

“We can not overstate the devastating impact this [healthcare crisis] has had on the mental health and wellbeing of trans and non-binary young people living in Ireland, their families, and the youth workers who support them,” reads the letter.

After listing the specific aspects that require attention, the letter continues, “As youth workers, we are not equipped to deal with the hopelessness and disappointment caused by the current state of gender-related healthcare in Ireland. While under pressure to support trans and non-binary young people as much as we can, youth workers are suffering second-hand or vicarious trauma through the distress and negative experiences of the young people we support.”

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