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Statement from Belong To in response to Prime Time

For over 20 years, Belong To – LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland has supported trans young people and their families.

Central to our work is ensuring that LGBTQ+ young people are happy, healthy and safe.

Relentless public debates about the trans community seriously impacts the lives of trans young people. We must consider the impact of these debates on the mental health and well-being of those whose lives are being discussed. Such debates rarely feature the voices and views of young trans people themselves, nor do they focus on the large proportion of trans people living happy, fulfilled lives.

What we all want is a society where young people feel accepted and safe to be who they are.

However, in recent years, we have seen concerted attempts to undermine progress towards LGBTQ+ inclusion and we are seeing increasing levels of hate directed towards the LGBTQ+ community and in particular, the trans community.

Trans people have been marginalised, stigmatised in the media, and denied access to the type of healthcare that is internationally recognised as best meeting their needs.

The healthcare choices available to, and made by, trans people can be complex and, as with all healthcare decisions, they are deeply personal. Not every trans person wishes to medically transition. However, those who do, need access to reliable, safe, supportive and respectful healthcare and advice. This is not currently available for trans people in Ireland.

Currently, trans young people and their families cannot get the information, supports and referral pathways they need to understand whether accessing gender-affirming care is the right option for them or not.

According to Transgender Europe, Ireland is ranked worst of all EU States for healthcare for trans people as a result of the extensive wait times for access to care for adults, and the absence of an active health service and supports for trans young people.

We urgently need healthcare services to deliver timely care for trans people, following the best-practice guidelines.

We are calling for a model of care that meets the needs of trans people of all ages. Such a model would holistically attend to trans people’s physical, mental and social health needs and wellbeing, while respectfully affirming their gender identity. It would provide wraparound healthcare and supports for trans people and their families, in their local communities. Most importantly, it would make young trans people happier and safer.

To any trans young people who are feeling scared and worried right now, please know that Belong To and a wide number of organisations are working to create an Ireland where you are equal, safe and valued.

We offer young people a safe space to explore their sexual orientation, gender identity and various LGBTQ+ topics without fear of judgement, harassment or discrimination.

If you need support, please get in touch with our youth workers today.