By Thomas White
Currently in Ireland there is a real lack of access to decent and appropriate health care services for Trans, Intersex and other gender nonconforming people throughout the health system.
There are only a handful of medical practitioners in the country willing to prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or Gender Reassignment Surgery, and an outmoded “diagnoses” based system that requires multiple psychiatrists / clinical psychologists to sign off on the treatment.
Even with this, many are stranded for years on waiting lists or denied treatment altogether and forced to travel to mainland Europe to receive treatment which can cost thousands of euro. This leaves many struggling with debt or simply unable to afford it creating a tier based system where the poorest and most marginalised in the Queer community are left unable to access the necessary healthcare.
Mental health and LGBT+ community resources are severely underfunded and overstretched, struggling to deal with a mental health epidemic. Members of the Queer community are especially vulnerable too, with rates of mental illness four times higher than that of the cishet population, reaching to six times the average among the Trans community.
The lack of LGBT+ inclusive and comprehensive sex education, due to church influence in our schools, and curriculum is also a source of difficulty, and often a contributing factor to mental health issues. Church control of public hospitals is also a barrier to the provision of quality healthcare which is needed regardless of “religious ethos”. High levels of youth homelessness and insecure housing exacerbated by the housing crisis are also having a detrimental effect on the mental and physical health of Queer people.
What is needed?
What is desperately needed is a secular fully funded public health service which will provide HRT, Hormone Blockers, Gender Reassignment Surgery and medications such as PEP and PrEP on a patient consent orientated basis. A massive increase in funding for mental health services and an extension of services provided is also needed. This national healthcare service should be free at the point of use and paid for through a system of progressive taxation on the wealth and profits of the super-rich and big business.
Only a secular health service of this kind can begin to meet the needs of the LGBT+ community in regards to healthcare ensuring that all members of the community are able to access it with ease so that all our needs mental and physical can be met. The full separation of church and state must be demanded to achieve this.