TransgenderNI announces new vision for trans healthcare services in Northern Ireland

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Today, TransgenderNI announces a new vision for healthcare services in Northern Ireland for transgender people, laying out a plan of action for bringing healthcare in the region into compliance with human rights standards and global best practice.

The current Health & Social Care system in Northern Ireland fails to support trans and non-binary people in a number of major ways, both within their specialised gender services as well as their mainstream services.

Many of the issues in healthcare services facing trans patients stem from the treating of trans identity as being a mental health condition. This outdated and pathologising model is unsuitable for a community with such a wide range of diverse experiences, identities and expressions, and is especially unsuitable for trans young people.

Alexa Moore, Director of TransgenderNI said

In consultation with trans communities earlier this year, we know that current gender identity services and their requirements harm many trans patients, especially younger people, disabled people, and people who aren’t male or female.” She described how NI services are particularly frustrating for people who know how good trans healthcare can be when it’s not centred in mental health services: “But in this ultra-connected world, trans people in Northern Ireland see how their care would be managed if they lived elsewhere, and how being invasively assessed and forced to come out before you’re ready aren’t actually required to provide good care.Alexa Moore

Trans healthcare globally learned from the UK in decades past, but now we lag behind global good practice, and our way of doing things won’t be possible under new healthcare classification codes announced this year by the World Health Organisation.

TransgenderNI has outlined a staged approach to move services into compliance with human rights standards and to approximate global good practice, addressing urgent human rights and safeguarding issues immediately and building sustainable and accessible services as a result.

In a statement, Ellen Murray, Executive Director said

As human rights professionals who work internationally, we know that the current denials of rights to private and family life, of disability rights, and of children’s rights aren’t required to deliver trans healthcare safely. We intend to continue working with health and social care services here to build better services that work for trans communities, and to explore community-delivered alternatives where required.”Ellen Murray

TransgenderNI is working closely with Ciaran Moynagh, human rights lawyer and Director of Phoenix Law, to ensure trans people’s access to healthcare services is guaranteed in a timely manner. In a statement, he said:

The health trusts have a statutory obligation to act in the best interests of trans persons and any mistreatment or delay could be a violation of that person’s human rights under the Human Rights Right act and European Convention on Human Rights.”

“Phoenix Law is proud to be working with the Trans Resource Centre to see whether strategic litigation is required to bring about timely change as these persons should not be expected to wait for consultation, new government or whatever other obstacles those in power cite.”

Ciaran Moynagh

Throughout the remainder of the calendar year, TransgenderNI will release a series of resources aimed at redressing human rights and healthcare access issues in NI services, and will launch a human rights education programme for trans people in the region. Detailed plans for our work in this area will be released in a comprehensive paper in the coming months.

TransgenderNI is a trans-led human rights organisation based in Northern Ireland. It works at international human rights level and at local community level to protect and forward transgender rights in Northern Ireland. The Belfast Trans Resource Centre, the only trans community centre in the UK and Ireland, is a project of the organisation.

Questions about this resource

Questions and media inquiries about this resource should be directed towards TransgenderNI:

Belfast Trans Resource Centre,
98 University Street,
Northern Ireland,
(+44) 0300 302 3202

Download our healthcare brief
You can find our brief on trans healthcare rights and new service recommendations here.