An estimated 1,000 people made history on Saturday by marching in Dublin’s first-ever Trans Pride. But organizers say the event — which marked the 35-year anniversary of Ireland’s inaugural LGBTQ Pride — wasn’t a parade. It was a protest.
In 1983, queer and trans Dubliners took to the streets to condemn the murder of Declan Flynn, an openly gay man killed following a homophobic attack in Fairview Park. The gang of five men responsible for his death — which included Robert Alan Armstrong, Colm Donovan, Patrick Kavanagh, and Anthony Maher — pled guilty but were given suspended sentences.
This despite the fact that news reports of the time claim Flynn’s murderers robbed him as he lay dying.
To commemorate the 200 LGBTQ people who trekked from Liberty Hall to Fairview Park in March 1983 to protest systemic injustice, organizers with Dublin Trans Pride led community members down the same route this weekend. Numbering as many as 1,500, the boisterous crowd hoisted signs like “Trans Rights Are Human Rights” and “Real Men Respect Trans Women.”
Pride organizers claim the action was intended as a “return to the radical roots of pride” after they Dublin’s yearly LGBTQ Pride event has become increasingly corporate in recent years.
“It was quite explicitly a political protest and we were very clear about that,” lead organizer Thomas White tells INTO. “This is a place where corporations weren’t welcome. This was a space for the trans community to put forward their needs and demands and have their voices heard.”
Event speakers claimed that while Ireland has made historic advances on trans rights in recent years, much more must be done to ensure full equality under the law.
“It’s not good enough that we must be diagnosed with a psychiatric condition just to access the healthcare we need,” This Is Me campaign founder Noah Halpin told an enthusiastic crowd gathered in Fairview Park. “It’s not good enough that there’s only one surgeon in Ireland who will provide surgery to transmasculine people and that their waiting list is years and years long.”
At the top of a list of demands from Dublin Trans Pride is access to health care. Ninety percent of hospitals are operated by the Irish Catholic Church, which White claims is “no friend to trans people.” In Ireland, it’s currently legal for doctors and other medical professionals to refuse service based on “religious ethos.”
White says the widespread denial of gender-affirming care “impacts the poorest and most vulnerable in our community.”
“If you have a bit of money, you can afford to go to Poland for three months to afford top surgery, but most of us can’t afford that,” he says. “If you’re a poor trans person or someone who is in precarious housing, you’re not able to afford the thousands of Euros to fly to Europe and stay there for months at a time, as well as the cost of treatment itself.”
Additional demands include banning conversion therapy, ending genital mutilation of intersex babies, increasing trans-inclusive mental health services, and lowering the age at which transgender people can legally correct their birth certificates.
Enacted in 2015, Ireland’s Gender Recognition Act permits trans individuals over the age of 18 to “self-declare” their gender identity. Transgender people between the ages of 16 and 17 can update their birth certificate with permission from both parents and a medical professional, and advocates would like to see those barriers lifted.
Meanwhile, the process of correcting birth documents doesn’t recognize intersex or nonbinary people at all. These populations “legally don’t exist,” White says.
Organizers of Dublin Trans Pride — which began the planning process just weeks ago — hope the groundbreaking event will inspire further grassroots activism in a country with just one transgender advocacy group, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).
White believes the momentum is there. During Saturday’s march, he says the contingent was bursting with “vitality and anger.”
“The mood was electric,” White claims. “I was leading the march, and when I got to Fairview Park, I turned around and saw the entire march splayed around behind us — there was nothing like it. Every single section was loud. They were screaming, chanting, and demanding their rights.”
Organizers say they are already planning to hold another Trans Pride event next year.
“We want to make this an annual thing,” White claims. “We don’t want to make this the last one. We want to keep pushing and fighting for trans liberation.”
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