Report on Dublin Trans Health forum
Ariel reports from the Dublin Trans Health Forum
Last Monday, October 1st, Transgender Equality Network Ireland held a Trans* Health Forum in Dublin. Within the cavernous hall of the Dublin Civic Offices, trans* people, their friends, partners and allies were all called upon to help improve the situation of great disadvantage which faces trans* people in Ireland today.
The evening began with a report on the supports currently available to trans* people nationwide, given by TENI’s development worker, Vanessa Lacey. In the last two years, TENI has been encouraging and assisting in the establishment of support groups in most regions, including TransParentCI, a support group for the parents of trans* people, as well as facilitating the groups communicating with each other with the Trans Groups Alliance. TENI also placed great emphasis on the need for one-on-one support, which is often necessary. Fostering greater regional support continues to be a goal for TENI, as many trans* people continue to be isolated and alienated in our society.
Highlighted also was TENI’s current engagement with medical professionals through the Trans Health Working Group, which also includes GLEN and the Health Service Executive. This group hopes to create a formalised medical pathway for trans* people in the HSE, starting with the creation of a policy document. The need for awareness of trans* health issues within the HSE was presented through a study of HSE employees’ awareness and attitude toward trans* people. Of those polled, over 90% had not had any trans*-specific training, and while a majority were interested in said training, a troubling 26% responded they were not. Respondents, however, overwhelmingly supported a more comprehensive, specialised trans* service nationwide, especially for trans* youth. It was also noted by respondents that, for the most part, their first contact with a trans* person they were aware of was due to medical attention needed after unprovoked assaults.
Following this, there was a presentation of the preliminary result of the Trans* mental health and well-being survey, conducted in collaboration between Irish and UK-based trans groups. The survey showed that at least 1/3rd of respondents do not identify as male or female, emphasizing the need for greater supports available to non-binary trans* people, and that many respondents hold a secondary school qualification or higher. Responses regarding suicide, however, were grim, with 78% of respondents having considered it, and over 40% having actually attempted to take their own lives. Many respondents also reported that they knew trans* people who had taken their own lives.
The survey also showed that many trans* people do not transition, medically or socially for a variety of reasons. While a majority of respondents reported less suicidal thoughts after transition, the need for a more comprehensive approach to trans mental health became clear.
After the presentation, attendees were divided into four groups to discuss the different issues presented, come up with realistic goals and address problem areas. Feedback highlighted a strong need for a comprehensive trans* health strategy, from the HSE, to individual GPs, to psychotherapists and beyond. A concise health pathway, with awareness of non-binary identities, was also a concern which emerged from these discussions.
The evening was drawn to a close by Broden Giambrone, Director of TENI. Broden thanked the attendees for their feedback and encouraged people to volunteer for TENI and spread the word. TENI’s funding is due to end this year, which means the organisation must change its approach, as it is not likely it will continue having full-time workers. The results of both studies presented on Monday, as well as the feedback from those in attendance, showed that the needs of the trans* community are still not being met despite the tireless efforts of TENI and other organisations and individuals. There is a need for more resources, more volunteers, specifically those who have always thought about lending a hand but haven’t gotten around to it. Now is the time. If you don’t know where to start, e-mail TENI and ask them what they need, they’ll be more than glad to have you.
For more information on the results of the mental health survey, please check http://teni.ie/news-post.aspx?contentid=673