Vanessa Lacey: Transgender children are a growing issue so it’s fantastic to see it being taken seriously
Sitting around the table at the Department of Education yesterday was a fantastic feeling. To be sitting across from Minister Kevin Humphreys and so many important people from the department cemented to us just how seriously they are taking this issue.
It was a hugely positive meeting for what is an absolutely massive and growing concern for us.
As the health and education manager with Transgender Equality Network Ireland, I have worked in this area for six years.
Going back three years ago we had just two schools in touch with us looking for our guidance on how to deal with transgender children. Last year we had 15 schools in touch, three of which were primary schools. This year to date we’ve had 11 schools contact us regarding children transitioning. So you can see a growing trend.
We have had school principals come to us and ask how they can help a young transgender person with their transition and how they can help their family.
What a lot of people also forget is that in some situations the person may have a sibling also going to that school, so it can be tough for them as well.
That’s why it is vital that the support structures are put in place for these young, vulnerable individuals and their families.
We know that people looking for help and guidance on this has risen exponentially and these numbers are only going to increase.
Our main concern is that these holistic resources are in place to address the needs of transgender people, their families, schools and health care professionals.
What is more important is addressing the totally unacceptable suicide rate in our community, which currently stands at 30pc. Working with the HSE, we successfully delivered more than 50 training sessions last year in how to help people cope and we want this to grow.
What the beginning of talks yesterday has shown is a commitment for change.