‘No one should have to feel isolated’ – support group for transgender people in Kilkenny to hold first meeting
The first-ever meeting for Kilkenny people of the transgender community, or those considering the change, will take place in the city this week.
Organised by Rebecca Harold with the assistance of the Kilkenny Leader Partnership (KLP), Translife Kilkenny aims to create a safe space where people of the transgender community can come together to share their experiences, create a network and provide support.
“No one should have to feel isolated,” Rebecca told KilkennyNow.ie.
“In this part of rural Ireland there is not much for transgender people. The supports are there for the L, the G and the B (lesbian, gay and bisexual), but not so much for the T (transgender).
“There needs to be something not just for Kilkenny but something that includes all the areas around here, Carlow, Waterford, Tipperary, Wexford.
“This group is reaching out to all transgenders or people who are questioning their gender.”
Rebecca wants the group to help each other by opening up about their journeys, their experiences and extending their knowledge of the healthcare supports they have.
“We want to break the isolation, give people a support group they can turn to if they need advice, especially when it comes to doctors or counselling. This group is a means of support, having someone who has gone through the same procedures and transitions as you have.
“We hope people at different stages of transition will be there to pass on their experience of what to expect next and how they handled it. These are very difficult situations for a person in isolation.”
The support is needed as Rebecca explains the health service in Ireland is not set up in a way to assist transgender people or people transitioning.
“There is no real health service for trans people in Ireland. In terms of hormone treatment there is, but in terms of surgery – no.
“Most people have gone to Britain for the surgery but now with Brexit, we are not so sure. People could be travelling to Germany and Poland.
“When we come back from surgery there is no aftercare in Ireland. We are given pamphlets at those clinics to bring back to our GPs to say, ‘this is the information we have been given and this is what you have to do!’ It shouldn’t be our place to tell them what to do.
“Counsellor wise, we have to travel to Cork or Dublin. There are none around here dealing with transgender issues.”
Rebecca, a native of Kilkenny, came out in 2017 and has been going through hormone treatment for seven months. She has had to travel to Clonmel to be part of a support group and says it far more difficult to find supports in rural areas.
“I have tried setting up something on my own before and got nowhere. Then I reach out to KLP who have been fantastic. They are providing the room, printing the flyers and helping get the word out there.
“When I came out, I found there were supports for young people who wanted to come out, but very little for adults. I had to travel to Dublin until I found a group in Clonmel.
“The location where the meeting is held is very discreet, it’s in a busy part of Kilkenny where people are going about their business. So it’s easy just to slip off from that and into the meeting.”
The first meeting of Translife Kilkenny takes place this Wednesday, January 22 at 6.30pm in the Kilkenny Leader Partnership offices located at 8 Partick’s Court, Patrick Street.