Sam Blanckensee (21): ‘New legislation will allow Trans people to say what gender we identify without a doctor’s approval'
Published 04/06/2015 | 12:56
An Irish man has said that new legislation which will allow people in Ireland to self declare their gender and have their identity officially recognised in Irish law is just as important as the Marriage Equality Bill to the transgender community.
Sam Blanckensee (21) from Dublin who transitioned when he was 16 said that the Gender Recognition Bill will be a huge relief to Irish people who are transgender, as the community will now have the power to change all legal documents without medical approval and also have the right to marry or enter a civil partnership.
“The new legislation will allow you to change your birth certificate and all other documents to the gender you identify with. It will no longer be about a doctor giving us approval,” Sam told RTE Radio One’s Sean O’Rourke.
“It’s all about our own identities. For me the change that was made yesterday was the equivalent to the Marriage Equality bill being passed. It’s my identity not a medical condition,” he said.
The veterinary nursing student who has gone through a social and medical transition revealed that he always felt like a boy, although he didn’t have the language or the understanding to express it when he was younger.
“I remember being on my school hurling team and at 12 being told I had to play Camogie from now on. It made me leave the sport. I wanted to keep playing with the other boys.
“It’s quite complex to look back at it. I didn’t have the language to express I was a boy or that I felt like one.
“During puberty I tried to deny that I had issues. Although I didn’t like my body it was really a time of denial for me,” said Sam.
In Leaving Certificate year Sam joined Trans support group Belong To, who helped him come to terms with his identity and gave him the courage to tell his friends and parents.
“When I started in Belong To, I met people who were Trans and it made me realise that Trans people existed and it made me look at my own feelings. Within six months I realised I was Trans and I wanted to transition.
“I told my friends well before I told my parents. I wrote a letter to them. My parents knew that there was something up and they wanted to know what was happening.
“I printed the letter didn’t speak to them for three days. It was a conversation that was very difficult.
“The first thing I had to do was to educate them and express to them that transitioning was a possibility. And also that this wasn’t a bad thing. I thought of it as just a part of me.”
The 21-year-old civil rights activist admitted that although it was a difficult time for his family, his parents sought the support of Transparency , a group for the parents of transgendered people and are now very involved in Trans organisations.
“At the beginning they found it very difficult. My name and pronouns were difficult to change. But they soon realised it wasn’t a phase.
“After they got support from a group called Transparency they have been amazing. My dad is on the board on the National Trans Organisation and my mum is the treasurer of the parents’ support group. They’re amazing parents,” said Sam.
Sam believes that Caitlyn Jenner’s recent media attention has been mostly a positive thing for transgendered people despite being “sensationalised”.
“I have been following the story and I watched the Diane Sawyer interview recently myself.
“It’s disappointing to see it’s been taken in such a sensationalist way by the media but it’s great to see the support Caitlyn has gotten from fellow celebrities and the public. “
“For me transitioning was being known as myself. Many people would see it as a medical transition.
“For me it was mostly a social transition but I did go through a medical transition too. I went on hormone blockers, testosterone and then I had surgery.
“The social transition was the most important for me.
“I went to America last year for upper body surgery. For me that was all I needed.”
Sam revealed that his transition has given him a positive outlook on life and has made him the happiest he has ever been.
“It’s been great I’ve never been happier. When I realised I was trans it was a huge relief. I was struggling with depression and suicidal ideation.”
“I find it easier to make friends. Before I was quite shy. Now I relate with people better.
“I have one friend in particular, who I’ve known since I was 2 and a half and we are still as close if not more so as we ever were regardless of the fact that I’ve transitioned,” Sam said.
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