Fingal Feminist Network and Fingal Communities Against Racism stand together with our trans, non-binary, intersex family, friends, and neighbours. Our Irish feminism has a long history of trans inclusivity and solidarity. It is deeply intersectional to its core. Fingal is one of the most diverse regions in Ireland. We embrace and are proud of our LGBTQIA+ families, friends, neighbours; and, most expressly at this time, with our trans siblings. We recognise that black, Traveller and ethnic minority trans people are the most marginalised in our communities. We further recognise that asylum seeking and un-documented trans people face additional obstacles within the Irish State, Direct Provision system and their diaspora communities.
Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERF) are exclusionary. Their ideology is cruel and divisive. We understand that delimiting concepts of gender to biological sex assignation is essentialist, denying the beautiful complexity of our experiences of gender as nuanced, multifarious, fluid; and imposes an outmoded, culturally and historically specific ideology. This ideology functions to pit people against each other and strengthen an authoritarian hold over our lives. We do not entertain arguments that debate any person’s existence and right to self-determination.
Why are LGBT+ rights being attacked in Ireland right now?
The Irish Gender Recognition Act (GRA) passed in 2015 without contest. In 2018, when the UK was dealing with reform to their GRA which would allow people to self-identify gender without medical diagnosis, as in Irish law; organised moves were made to plant and import British TERF ideology here. Contextually this played out 2-years post-Brexit referendum, when strategies UKIP & the BNP used to push a ‘Leave’ narrative were being imported for an IREXIT campaign. There has been a consistent and decided move from ethno-nationalist organisations post-Brexit to import a bogus culture wars narrative wholesale to Ireland via far-right media: Breitbart, Gript; and more recently MSM. We are not seeing wise decisions from reputable media outlets and journalists to interrogate which agendas they are giving airtime and column inches to. It appears clickbait culture is superseding facts and evidentiary research. We are not aware of a mainstream media outlet in Ireland with a zero-tolerance, no platform for the far-right agenda.
It is illuminating to take a closer look at the individuals and groups behind this wave of transphobic organising:
The lawyer in the judicial review against Tavistock in Britain is an anti-choice activist. Tavistock v Bell has received publicity in the Irish media. Tavistock is a health unit which treats trans teenagers with puberty blockers. Puberty blockers are completely reversible and have been used successfully for decades to treat puberty. However, their use in the treatment of trans teenagers who wish to avoid the severe distress brought on by puberty is now under threat. Ireland has no health service for transgender teens, our trans teens have been accessing Tavistock for decades. Not only does denying this treatment fulfill a transphobic agenda, it also attacks the right to bodily autonomy for all young people. The right of teens to consent to abortion or to taking contraception will be next on on the religious right’s litigation list.
The ‘LGB Alliance’
The ‘LGB Alliance’, a British transphobic group, masquerading as a pro-gay rights group has been platformed by the Irish media. That the ‘LGB Alliance’ is nothing but a front for the religious right is obvious from the facts that it claims opposition to marriage equality is ‘not homophoblic’; and it works with The Heritage Foundation – an American Christian fundamentalist group. The ‘LGB Alliance’ bears a lot of similarities to certain notorious ‘Institutes’ closer to home, down to a reluctance to disclose where their funding comes from. The anti-choice, anti-marriage equality lobby in Ireland have seized on transphobic rhetoric enthusiastically. A website owned by Youth Defence and ‘edited’ by the spokesman for the ‘Save the 8th’ campaign, for instance, has featured a number of transphobic pieces, alongside anti-choice pieces and homophobic pieces targeting gay politicians. Youth Defence has direct links to the National Party and fascist organising in Ireland. It is no coincidence that this wave of transphobic organising has come after the religious right lost campaigns against marriage equality in a number of countries. Indeed some of the transphobic rhetoric we are now seeing is very familiar to anybody who remembers the virulent homophobia in tabloids such as ‘The Sun’ in the 1980s, recycling as it does similar tropes and moral panics.
The religious right lost campaigns against marriage equality in the UK, Ireland and abroad, following these defeats they shifted tactics and stepped up their attacks on trans people. We hold firm that the Christian right, right wing, and far-right groups are in alliance over the spread of this toxic hatred. They are seeking to isolate our trans siblings from our communities. We will not let that happen. Our trans siblings have always been at the forefront of campaigning for equality and liberation in Ireland. Gender-based violence, rooted in patriarchal ideology which enforces heteronormative gender roles, comes in very many forms and representations; an attack on our trans family is an attack on us all.