Launch of UCD Gender Identity and Expression Policy
Remarks by Minister Katherine Zappone
This is a significant moment in the advancement of Gender Identity and Trans Rights not just in UCD or in the education sector but in our country.
We now have in one of our top colleges a Gender Identity and Expression Policy which goes beyond aspirations.
It takes concrete steps which will positively impact on the everyday lives of students, staff, graduates and indeed those who aspire to join UCD into the future.
Your decision to allow trans and gender fluid employees and students to change their records to have their preferred name across all university systems without the requirement to produce a gender recognition certificate is not only ground-breaking, it sets an example for others to follow.
Allowing trans students to change their names on official university award documents is a step which is just as important.
While the work to introduce gender neutral toilets and highlighting their locations on campus through signage and online resources – again leads the way not just for the education sector but for all public services and employers.
These measures taken together with the training of 80 frontline staff on the implementation of UCDs Gender Identity and Expression Policy has set a very high standard for others to follow.
This evening as a fellow campaigner, an academic and an independent voice at the Cabinet table I acknowledge your work and congratulate all who have brought us to this very special moment.
You have made UCD a more welcoming campus for all.
Your work reminds us that the battle for equality is far from over.
While the Marriage Equality referendum was a defining moment – and one which Ireland can forever be proud of – it was never going to mark the end of the journey to full equality.
It is a sad reality that there are those in our community who still feel isolated.
They fear discrimination, intimidation and even hatred if they come out to family or friends.
As long as people – members of our community – feel this way then the battle for equality is not over.
Events like this, and policies such as those we celebrate this evening, are important moments.
They not only allow us to reflect on how our actions, our rules and our policies can impact positively or negatively on the day to day life of a colleague, a student or a friend.
They also offer solidarity and a beacon of hope to those who for whatever reason feel unable to come out at this time.
It is for them that we must never tire of talking about equality and taking steps to make our communities – on campus and in the wider community – more welcoming and safer places.
LGBTI+ Youth Strategy
As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs it has been a great honour to set Ireland on a course to form and implement an LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy – it will be a world first.
Already a lot of work has been done.
There has been a very successful consultation with 4-thousand young voices from across the country.
They spoke of their hopes and their fears.
Much of what they want is reflected in the UCD policy.
The ability to change names with ease on records, gender neutral toilets and bathrooms as well as feeling included and welcome.
There are other important findings which we need to respond to.
Young people want LGBTI+ history on the school curriculum. They also want better sex education. Better measures to combat homophobia, transphobia and other bullying.
On each of these I 100% agree with our young people.
I look forward to the completion of our Youth Strategy in the coming months and hope to see many of your faces when as Minister I will have the privilege to launch it.
It is important that the Government continue to look at its policies and laws to make sure they are applied equally and fairly to all our citizens and residents of Ireland.
We have already changed our adoption laws to reflect modern Irish families.
A review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 is also under way. The findings of which will be reported to the Houses of the Oireachtas in the Autumn.
As someone who has worked hard on gender rights I will be keeping a close eye on this review.
Indeed five years ago as a Senator I co-published a Legal Recognition of Gender Bill in the Seanad, a year later I hosted the first ever Civic Forum on Gender Recognition in Leinster House which led to amendments to the act.
It was an honour then to work with campaigners and groups such as TENI – I am delighted to see my old friends as partners here in UCD too.
We have come a long way in those five years.
When we march with Pride now it is a big affair.
Trade unionists, rights campaigners are joined by political parties who too often in the past shirked their responsibilities or the big corporate names, also new comers to our efforts.
It was not always so.
Not too long ago Pride was a much smaller affair – it took guts and courage to be seen, to speak up, to demand your rights.
Tonight we honour some-one who was there then.
Tonie Walsh you have made an enormous contribution to our community.
Whether taking a stand after the Fairview Park Murder, raising awareness during the AIDs epidemic or confronting discrimination your voice was often the loudest.
Your work continues now as Curator of the National LGBT or ‘Queer’ Archives.
Our young people who want to know about the history of our community will appreciate your efforts for a long time to come.
As a former recipient Tonie can I just say welcome to the club.
Students, academics – fellow campaigners.
The rights of our community have been improved – in many ways improved beyond all recognition.
We should always acknowledge that.
I said at the outset our journey to full equality is not over.
Let’s be aware too that equality is hard fought, extraordinarily difficult to achieve – and very fragile.
While DCU is setting itself as a beacon and a leader, there are others who are actively working to undermine what has been achieved and prevent further progress.
The battle for Marriage Equality is not over – we must not leave our friends in Northern Ireland behind. I visited with them in December. They are true campaign warriors but they need our support.
Ireland too must stand up to the undermining of rights internationally.
Tonight our gathering here is a sign of solidarity to all. What we are doing here can offer hope whether through twitter, media coverage or indeed maybe word of mouth about what is happening on the DCU campus.
Tonight let us celebrate what you have achieved – but tomorrow let us return to the fight and stand in solidarity with all who need our help and support.
Click on the link to DCYA for the original article.