PREVIEW: Transgender Health Care in Northern Ireland: Orla’s Story

Featured Image: Belfast Pride Parade passing in front of Belfast City Hall. A small group of protesters can be seen at front of the City Hall gates. Connor Fleming

By Aidan Lomas – Editor-in-Chief

Of the many heated debates taking place in western societies these days, Gender has been perhaps the most central of them all. Whether it’s conservatives invalidating trans-women with “men are not women”, or whether it’s progressives guising as liberals labelling anti-trans individuals as “outdated”, “gammons”, or “nazis”, the debate over the nature of gender dysphoria and trans-rights has become heavily entrenched and, maybe worse of all, heavily combative. When you combine this intensity with the particularly conservative nature of Northern Ireland’s zeitgeist, it is no surprise to learn that many in Northern Ireland fear the country’s approach to liberal democratic standards may slip further and further behind.

Take, for example, the simple question of Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. The essence of this question is a personal and moral one. Are you, as an individual in your own right, in favour of having an abortion should the “preferred” circumstances arise? Or, do you feel that, regardless of when, why, or how, the child that has been conceived should be respected equivocally to the mother, father, and neighbour? It is, I would argue, the most Hobbesian or Lockean liberal question of them all; it is about YOU, not the stranger you crossed eyes with on the Bus or Train. Yet, despite this foundation, the question has now become one of ‘authority vs anarchy’ in the mind of those who possess either the political cunning or lack of IQ to misrepresent it. This same understanding can be expanded to include the question of transgender rights and healthcare.

The question of “are you Pro-Trans or Anti-Trans?” is a personal one; the experiences in life and the beliefs those experiences have created are personal to you, and so your position on the matter is your position on the matter. However, it has now become, like abortion laws, a question of the state’s power. No longer do we ask ourselves “do I support the right of a women to an abortion?” or “do I support the right someone to transition?”. Instead, we ask ourselves “Should the Government and NHS/HSCNI provide or prohibit abortion clinics?” and “Should the government legislate for or against trans rights?”. This is where the nature of the debate turns its coldest. Once the government decides that it is empowered to legislate or act upon a decision, regardless of any actual public vote or mandate, the rare sensation of a truly liberal liberal society is diminished; it’s a cultural shift that poses a risk to us all…

Read more when the Gown’s next issue goes live.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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