IRELAND is one of only two countries in Europe that has failed to afford any legal rights to transgender people.
Professor Stephen Whittle, a professor in Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, made his comments while addressing the opening day of Ireland’s first Transgender Human Rights Conference and Educational seminar at the Law Society.
Prof Whittle, a transgender man who made the transformation to male in 1975 and who has been a community activist for more than 30 years, discussed his research into transgender people and the healthcare service.
The two-day conference, entitled ‘Transforming Attitudes’, is organised by Transgender Equality Network Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland and Belong To Youth Services.
It aims to inform and educate a wide variety of civil organisations, student groups, strategic individuals and policymakers about transgender issues and experiences in Ireland.
The focus of the conference is on the sociological and legal perspectives of equality and human rights for transgender people and how to support young transgender people in employment settings.
The network will also launch its first research report, Transphobia in Ireland, at the conference.
It is a comprehensive review of Irish literature, policy and documentation on the handling of transphobia and transphobic incidents.
Network chairwoman Cat McIllroy said that the subject of transgender is still largely avoided in Ireland.
“We hope this conference will mark a watershed moment in the recognition of human rights for transgender people in Ireland,” she said.
“The subject of transgender is unfortunately still a subject which is more often than not avoided and I hope that the conference will highlight some of the issues facing transgender people in Ireland today.”
Other participants at the conference include Des Hogan, deputy chief executive of the Irish Human Rights Commission, Niall Crowley, former head of Equality Authority, Dr Paula Mayock, Trinity College Dublin and Senator Ivana Bacik.
Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, will provide a video message at the conference.
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