Youtube star, Alex Bertie invites his younger sibling Hollie, who is only 12 years old, for his Trans sibling Q&A special and when she is asked “if you have any advice to parents of a trans person, what would it be?” and without hesitation she replied, “Don’t shout at them just because they’re different. Take a chill pill, think about it, and don’t abandon them.” At only 12 years old, Hollie understood the reality of how choosing to be supportive is a matter of life or death.
The misconception about the Transgender community is the transition process being a want versus a need, in other words asking a trans person why they want to transition is irrelevant because the connection between body and mind is absolute. Imagine a life when body and mind conflict? How would you feel? How would you survive? Would you survive? Or would you be a part of the 40% of the trans community who commit suicide because they aren’t accepted and supported. It was best said by Luna, an International Relation Student at DCU, “It’s not about wanting, it’s about being” during her interview by The Irish Times. Being acceptingand supportive carries more power than you may know.
According to a study at San Francisco State University (SFSU), a trans child who experiences high rejection from their family are 8 times likely to commit suicide than someone who experiences low rejection. When rejecting a child for being born with the wrong natal sex (assigned gender) one weakens their mental health which is why suicide and/or drug abuse risks are high. Being valued by parents and family from childhood allows us in turn to learn to value and care about ourselves.
An example of how acceptance can save a trans child’s life is shown in the chart below. The difference between low and high is obvious, but worth noting is the difference between moderate level rejection, which is described as “some negative reactions but also had some positive reaction” and high rejection. The drop from high to moderate is substantial.
An organisation here in Dublin, Ireland that recognizes the power of acceptance is the Transgender Equality Network Ireland, also known as TENI. Founded in 2006, TENI’s mission is to advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families. Their recent efforts paved the path for the Gender Recognition Bill that was signed in 2015 by Ireland’s Oireachtas.
Before the signing of the bill trans people were required to undergo a lengthy process which required the supporting documentation from an endocrinologist (the branch of physiology and medicine concerned with endocrine glands and hormones), whereas now individuals of 18 and over are able to self-declare their own gender identity.
Despite the small victory, the struggle isn’t over. The new bill exclusion of “those under 18, non-binary people and people with an intersex condition.” sends a discouraging message to transgender children; rejection. The argument for the age requirement is to protect children from making a mistake but according to Pennsylvania’s transgender surgeon, Dr. Christine McGinn “when people don’t do well after their transition, it’s because they have absolutely no support system.
TENI’s chairs Sara Phillips acknowledges the bill isn’t perfect, however the board, staff members and volunteers at TENI still work hard towards a better and more equal Ireland. A nation that can join other countries like France, who in 2016 removed their surgical requirement for gender recognition or Argentina and New Zealand, who in 2012 declared all people can amend their natal sex, or like the Girlguiding organisation in the United Kingdom who just this past January welcomed boys who self-identify as “a girl” to join their program.
So many children are suffering in silence and the 40% suicide rate world wide for transgender children and young adults is unacceptable. The new Gender Recognition Bill is a move in the right direction for Ireland, however this legislation needs to be amended to include those under the age of 18 years old because this isn’t a matter of want but need.
Find out how to help Ireland keep its progression at the TENI website
To learn more about San Francisco State University study, click here.
https://youtu.be/9vyF2gMB1zY - Hollie’s Interview
https://youtu.be/Uqnpmpj7YD8 - Dr. Christine McGinn