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Trans Equality Together

Acoalition working to create an Ireland where Trans and nonbinary people are equal, safe and valued will be officially launched this month. Led by TENI, BeLonG To and LGBT Ireland, the Trans Equality Together coalition includes many other groups who support solidarity amongst our queer community, with more groups in the process of joining.

The objectives of the coalition are to:

• Promote positive attitudes towards Trans and non-binary people;

• Counter the negative and false messages about Trans people that have been circulating in recent years; and

• Advocate for policy and legislative changes that will improve the lives of Trans people and make Ireland a more equal society for all.

Moninne Griffith, CEO of BeLonG To, shared why the coalition is needed right now and also suggested what the community can do to support it:

“Legal and civil protections for Trans people have increased in recent decades. In Ireland and internationally, there has been a visible shift to Trans representation in all areas of society. Indeed, Ireland demonstrated strong leadership in relation to Trans rights by enacting the Gender Recognition Act in 2015, ensuring people over 18 can have their true gender recognised in law, based on selfdeclaration. This law was supported – without controversy – by a strong majority of Oireachtas members, and was greeted with widespread approval when it was introduced.<span> Seven years on, we now need to ensure that support and approval is maintained.</span>

“Unfortunately, visibility and legal protections do not automatically lead to widespread social acceptance. Internationally, attacks on Trans people’s rights are increasing and are focused on hindering or repealing legal reforms on gender recognition; halting medical care; limiting civil protections; and decimating gender equality. We do not want to see the sort of divisive rhetoric and villainisation of Trans people taking hold in Ireland that we have witnessed in other countries. That’s one of the main reasons we have established the Trans Equality Together coalition.

“Trans people in Ireland are a tiny minority of the population whose voices have rarely been heard in national discourse. They have been marginalised, denied access to healthcare, and demonised in the press. Trans Equality Together will work to create an Ireland where Trans people are equal, safe and valued. We want to promote positive attitudes towards Trans people, counter the negative and false messages that have been circulating in recent years, and work to achieve policy and legal changes – particularly in relation to gender recognition and healthcare – that will really improve the lives of Trans people.

“The support of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community will be essential to Trans Equality Together. We are calling on interested groups to join the coalition to help us achieve our aims. Over the coming months, we’ll also be unveiling a programme of activities with lots of opportunities for individuals to join in and support this important work.”

Trans Equality Together is also working to create space for a fresh, respectful and positive discussion for all people who challenge gender norms. Its purpose is:

• Solidarity between all people who challenge the limits of gender norms;

• Equality for all people who have been disadvantaged by gender norms; and

• Protection for all people who challenge gender norms.

Adding to Griffith’s points on why the coalition is essential at this current moment, Sara R Phillips, Chair of TENI, stated, “Attacks on Trans people’s rights have been rising in Ireland in recent years. There are, or course, lots of groups doing excellent work throughout the country to support the Trans community and protect and promote our rights. The aim of Trans Equality Together is to bring together the diverse array of organisations that work with the Trans community directly and also those that are our allies - to demonstrate to politicians, policymakers and the wider public the breadth of support that exists for Trans rights and the challenges that we, as a community, are facing right now.”

One of the Trans activists involved in the campaign highlighted the need to encourage broader understanding of gender in Irish society. They shared, “In light of the increasing violence and vitriol facing Trans and non-binary people in Ireland and globally, the Trans Equality Together Coalition is dedicated to combatting the rising anti-gender narratives and prioritising the needs and voices of Trans and non-binary people. Currently, Trans and non-binary voices have been side-lined in favour of stigmatising and dehumanising accounts of our experiences. The Trans Equality Together coalition is fundamental as it moves to recentre Trans and non-binary voices. In doing so the coalition aims to foster a more accepting climate in Ireland, while fighting for issues of critical importance to the community, namely transition-related healthcare and more expansive gender recognition legislation. At its heart, this coalition intends to positively change how Trans and non-binary people are perceived in Ireland and to encourage a more accepting and expansive understanding of gender more broadly in our society.”

Trans Equality Together will officially launch this month. Coalition members include Amnesty International Ireland, Bród West Cork, FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), GCN, Intersex Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR), the National Women’s Council (NWC), Outhouse, and Trans Limerick Community (TLC), with additional groups in the process of joining.

All photographs by Hazel Coonagh.

This article appears in the 372 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 372 Issue of GCN