June is the month of Pride, a movement that began in Stonewall, New York, and was initiated by activists such as Marsha P Johnson. The word ‘transgender’ wasn’t commonly used in Johnson’s lifetime, but she is seen through a modern-day prism as a prominent gender non-conforming figurehead in LGBTQ history.
Saturday (30 June) will be Dublin’s 35th annual Pride parade. It follows close on the heels of the 25th anniversary of decriminalising homosexuality in Ireland, and the gap between those two anniversaries signifies a decade of living in a restrictive and unwelcoming atmosphere. Just last week, the Government led by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD – famous for an eye-catching sock collection and being one of few openly gay world leaders – formally apologised to those convicted by the courts under this law, and hundreds attended a reception at Dublin Castle to mark the decriminalisation anniversary.
While not at its conclusion, the road to equality for bi and homosexual people in Ireland may now be taken at a more leisurely stride. But, for trans and non-binary people, it is still an uphill struggle. The gap between their Pride marches and their formal acceptance and recognition has yet to be closed, at home, in public life and in the workplace.
After the glitter and colour of Pride takes to the streets, Newstalk will air All Mine, a radio documentary exploring the experiences of seven Irish transgender people in their own words. There are parents, grandparents, activists, professionals and students from both university and secondary school sharing their perspectives first-hand.
Why you need to listen
Produced by Bureau (Maurice Kelliher and Shaun O’Boyle), this documentary is particularly essential listening for those outside the trans community as it offers a clear window into their lived experience. The producers consciously decided to leave out the voices of a narrator or outside experts, focusing squarely on the voices that need to be heard the most in these discussions: transgender men and women, and non-binary people. This deliberate choice by the creators ensures an authenticity and an intimacy that’s not just powerful, it’s enlightening.
By understanding the experience of trans people in Ireland today, we can better support them in spaces such as the workplace. Themes explored over the course of the 45-minute documentary include work relationships, discrimination, the law, education, mental health and the limitations of the Irish healthcare system when it comes to trans people.
This documentary comes as we approach LGBTSTEM Day (5 July), the first international day of LGBTQ people in science, technology, engineering and maths. Producer O’Boyle previously wrote for Siliconrepublic.com on the experience of being an LGBTQ person in STEM and his new initiative, House of STEM, has joined up with Pride in STEM, InterEngineering and oSTEM to make LGBTSTEM Day happen.
What struck me in the documentary is how often the speakers referred to themselves as ‘lucky’ for experiencing what many of us take for granted: support from parents, acceptance from colleagues, formal recognition and understanding medical care.
The participants are candid and their experiences are varied. While one of the subjects suffered under a bullying manager creating a hostile work environment, Aoife relays a more positive experience from her work in the tech industry. A simple and considerate act of welcoming her back to work as herself marks a touching moment in her story.
“It was the first time I had received a bunch of flowers,” she said. “It was just such a lovely, human thing.”
‘All Mine’ will air on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday 30 June at 9pm and the podcast will be available online after the broadcast.
Information and support for the issues raised in this programme can be found via the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), (01) 873 3575; and the National LGBT helpline, (01) 685 9280.
Bureau also produces ‘Inspirefest: The Podcast’, which will return to your earbuds soon.
A trans rights protester captured at the Women’s March on New York City in January 2017. Image: Justin Starr Photography/Shutterstock
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