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Statement from Trans Healthcare Action in Response to Prime Time

Trans Healthcare Action is deeply disappointed with the content of RTÉ’s Prime Time episode on healthcare for transgender youth in Ireland. We believe media coverage of healthcare issues related to the trans and gender diverse (TGD) community must centre the voices, experiences, and bodily autonomy of TGD people. In particular, trans youth are often excluded from conversations and decision-making about their own healthcare and bodies, and this episode was unfortunately no exception. Rather than elevate the trans youth who are directly impacted by the lack of gender-affirming healthcare services, RTÉ chose to focus their coverage on reinforcing an outdated and harmful model of care.


As shared in Transgender Europe’s Trans Media Guide, “We believe in the power of quality journalism as a truthful institution to counter propaganda and purposely misleading information, we believe in evidence-based factual knowledge, and human storytelling to amplify the voices of the most vulnerable groups of people at the frontier of human rights — trans rights.”

However, RTÉ chose not to show any of the countless stories of happy young trans people and instead amplified fears surrounding their care. RTÉ did not represent the wealth of evidence showcasing that the provision of gender-affirming care improves the mental health, body image, and overall quality of lives of trans people.


We provided an extensive interview supporting an evidence-based, gender-affirming, informed consent approach to care for TGD youth. We described the community’s call for an affirming approach to care, which upholds the right for TGD youth to access quality care that centres their needs and well-being in a safe and inclusive space. This approach promotes the bodily autonomy, self-determination, and informed consent of trans youth. In an affirmative model, health care providers work with the patient and their caregivers to create a supportive environment for free and open exploration of their gender needs, recognising that these may evolve over time. Through an informed consent model, a clinician provides accurate and appropriate education regarding transition—including risks, benefits, and limitations of any intervention—so that the patient can make free and informed decisions about their own body and treatment. Treatment for young trans people may include offering support for social transition, providing reversible puberty blockers to delay the effects of puberty, and, for those above the age of medical consent or who demonstrate Gillick competence, prescribing hormone therapy. Employing an affirming approach to trans youth care in Ireland would have a significant positive impact on their health and wellbeing, whereas models that restrict and deny access to care through damaging psychiatric assessments and interminable waitlists cause lifelong harm. 


We also spoke of the joy that transition brings many trans people, and the improved quality of life many experience when given access to safe, quality gender-affirming care. However, nearly none of this was included in the episode that aired.


We further sought to uplift that transgender healthcare is an everyday part of medicine, not a specialist service. Trans people receive safe, effective care from their primary care providers in places that practise informed consent across the globe, such as in Aotearoa New Zealand where national guidelines support community GPs and nurse practitioners to prescribe hormone therapy through an informed consent model, which allows trans people to access hormone therapy at the community level and receive HRT medications for free. GPs and nurse practitioners are uniquely positioned to support trans patients, as they can provide continuity of care and apply a holistic approach built on trust. GPs also regularly prescribe treatments such as hormone replacement therapy to cisgender patients. This is the most effective, sustainable, and accessible way to deliver trans healthcare.


Trans Healthcare Action continues to advocate for an Ireland where trans and gender diverse people can access gender-affirming healthcare within our local communities through an informed consent model. The current outdated gatekeeping model does not and will not meet the needs of the community. We call upon the media to stop fear mongering, base stories on evidence-based research, and place trans and gender diverse people at the centre of coverage about us. Trans people should not be relegated to the margins.


You can learn more about our vision for gender-affirming care on our website at www.transhealthcare.ie/vision.

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