By Conor Tormey
Bambi Thug, the Irish selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, has faced backlash and a spate of transphobic comments and abuse from the far-right groups and individuals over the past few weeks. Bambi is non-binary and uses they / them pronouns.
Hermann Kelly, leader of the Irish Freedom Party, tweeted out in response to the performance, “Seems celebrating satanism and ‘non-binary’ Woke nonsense is the fashion of the Irish Establishment”. At a school mass in Gaelscoil Uí Riada in Cork, it was reported that a guest speaker used the phrase “gender benders” in a rant against Bambi Thug. It was also reported that at a Sunday mass service in Galway a priest said about seeing Bambi on the Late Late Show that we are “finished as a country” and that he doesn’t “need [being gender non-conforming] slammed in my face”.
Assaults of the rise
This kind of response to the Eurovision performance is a manifestation of the backlash against trans people in Ireland. The rise of the far right over the past number of years has had a major impact on trans people, with trans / homophobic assaults rising year on year. This increase in transphobia has had a real effect on young trans people; a BelongTo ‘school climate’ survey reported that over 76% of LGBTQ+ students feel unsafe at school. One in three LGBTQ+ students have skipped school to avoid negative treatment, and 69% of LGBTQ+ students hear homophobic remarks from other students.
The far right will target any and all issues involving the LGBTQ+ community. Nearly a decade on from the breakthrough of the Marriage Equality referendum, backward social forces remain at large in society and will be seeking to exploit the referendums on the family and care to stoke division and further their agenda. They have to be resisted.
Of course, we send our solidarity to Bambi against this transphobic bile. What they’re experiencing is part of the more general right-wing backlash against trans issues. This backlash stems from the crisis-ridden capitalist system and its need to shore up traditional gender roles and to curb rights and freedoms in every way. Only with a fight against this very system, which ultimately will not accept the trans community, can trans people truly live freely.