“I do not have to prove that I am ‘trans enough’ for anyone” December 7, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Crazed nonsense..., Human Rights, Inequality, Irish Politics, Justice, LGBT Rights.
While the country was getting ready for the budget on Wednesday, elsewhere in the Leinster House complex, an Oireachtas committee took evidence on the experience and legal situation of trans people in Ireland.
All of it is worth watching, but I was particularly moved by the evidence of Darrn matthews, from 8:30 into the film:
Hi. My name is Darrin Matthews. I am a board member of TENI and also run he Cork Peer Trans Support Group.
I am a transgender man.
I had a woman from the Disability Allowance Office ring me and she wanted to know why my name had changed from a female name to a male name, and when I told her it was because I was transgender, she laughed at me and hung up the phone.
When I go out and I get asked for my passport as identification to get in, I sometimes get turned away because my gender marker still says “F” and I have both my birth certificate name and my current name Darrin printed.
Everybody has a right to a private life. I would just like that my right would be recognized. Issuing new birth certificates and can easily do this and prevent embarrassment and harassment and potentially dangerous situations.
My experience of being transgender doesn’t just affect me, it also affects my family. I have an amazingly supportive and loving family. My mother put herself into almost €12,000 worth of debt so she could send me to a private school because I was bullied for 2 years in my state school. My mother took out a loan to send me to a school where I could be called Darrin, not wear a girl’s uniform and be happy and every member of staff and every student called me Darrin instead of derogatory and cruel names.
I have many friends who are straight, gay and transgender. In this day and age if a gay friend of mine come to me and told me they had gotten their official diagnosis of “homosexual”, I would be shocked and appalled. Nineteen years ago homosexuality was decriminalized and people now cannot imagine a time when homosexuality was illegal. Most people don’t know that transgender people must be diagnosed with a psychiatric illness to access treatment in this country because this is such an inconceivable and ridiculous notion and is discriminatory in its nature.
I do not feel that because I was born in the wrong body that that automatically means I have a mental illness. There is still stigmatization attached to having a mental health issue in this country and to force a psychiatric condition onto another human being can have detrimental effects on a person’s self-image and self-esteem.
When a couple applies for a civil partnership, they are not asked for their gay diagnosis to prove their homosexuality. I had to prove to many people I was happier as the man I should have always been, to my mother, my siblings, to my friends. And I had to prove that I had a psychiatric illness. But I should not have to prove anything to a complete stranger and seek their acceptance. I do not have to prove that I am ‘trans enough’ for anyone.
My mother once asked if I was sure, and if I was really sure that being Darrin was what I wanted. When I told her I couldn’t go go back and be happy, she just said to me ‘Well then we can only go forward, my son’.
I always knew transitioning would never be easy but please don’t make it any harder than it already is. All I want is to be treated as an equal. To be treated with respect and dignity as much as a non-transgender person would be. Nothing more and nothing less. Thank you.