CN: Transphobia, transmisogyny, homophobia, VAW.
On International Women’s Day this year, I started writing a post about the areas in which women in Ireland face marginalisation or disadvantage because of our gender, and the people who are working for inclusion and justice in these areas. The post wasn’t supposed to take very long.
Or so I thought.
Instead? My list of topics is growing. Daily. I decided to split my post into two on Tuesday. As of right now, it’s looking like a three-parter. However.. who knows? We might yet hit three. Or four. Maybe more.
If you haven’t read it, here’s part one. Give it a read and then get back here, ’cause we have a lot to get through.
8. Support for trans girls and women
This summer, Ireland passed a Gender Recognition Bill. Overall it’s a fantastic piece of legislation, allowing for everyone over 18 to self-declare their own gender identity and have their legal documents, including birth certificates, updated to reflect this.
Despite this, trans people- especially trans women and girls- continue to be marginalised in Irish society. The Gender Recognition Bill doesn’t recognise anybody under sixteen, and if you’re between sixteen and eighteen you need a court order from a Family Court as well as parental consent to apply. We’re failing our trans children when we tell them that we won’t recognise them for who they are. Children shouldn’t have to learn to navigate the risk of being outed to and by everyone in their lives. Being recognised as who they are shouldn’t depend on being lucky enough to have a supportive family.
It’s not just young trans girls (and boys) who still face marginalisation here in Ireland. Transphobic abuse and workplace discimination is rampant. Trans woman are seen as threatening in spaces where they’re most at risk of violence. Healthcare professionals are largely ignorant of trans issues, and 3/4 of trans people have had a negative experience with them as a result.
I could go on.
TENI do fantastic work to support and advocate for trans people in Ireland
9. Violence against queer and non gender-conforming women
I took a three hour bus trip the other week. Sitting directly behind me were two people having a conversation. A loud one.
“I voted yes, you know, but I just think.. two men raising a child, like? I mean, I’m not saying that they’d always… but you know, right?”
“I voted yes, of course! But there’s this guy, you know? And he keeps on texting me and I swear if he ever tries to touch me I’m gonna deck him. Like, guys like that give them a bad name, you know?”
Last week, Victoria Curtis was punched four times in the face as she walked down the street. Her attacker said, “I voted Yes for marriage equality but I didn’t vote for that“. ‘That’ is Curtis’s gender presentation.
Anna Nolan and Una Mullally have also written about dealing with misogynist and homophobic abuse- almost always from gangs of young men- on the street. We pat ourselves on the back in Ireland, saying that LGBTQ people are equal now that we can get married. But we still get attacked on the street.
I have no idea who is doing a thing about it.
10. Paternity leave
If you’ve just had a baby in Ireland, your right to time away from your job to care for your newborn depends on your gender. Mothers are entitled to 26 weeks of paid leave followed by 16 weeks unpaid.
Currently, fathers get nothing. Many new fathers take their annual holidays when their child is born. However, as of next September fathers will be entitled to something- two weeks of paternity leave.
This is a fantastic development, but it’s not enough. The disparity between maternity and paternity leave enshrines one specific family form in our laws: one where men are the primary breadwinners and women the primary carers. This damages everyone. Men are seen as babysitters for their own children. Women’s careers suffer whether they have children or not, because employers assume that female employees will leave the workplace for months on end every time they have a child. And families who would prefer a different arrangement- one with equal shares of parenting responsibilities, or with a father as a primary carer- might not be able to do that.
11. Affordable Childcare
Childcare in Ireland is often prohibitively expensive. As we saw above, women are still considered primary carers for children in this country, so this has stronger knock-on effects for women’s lives than men’s. For many families, even if both parents want to work outside the home it’s not financially possible to do so- it costs money to have a job.
Last year, creche spaces for two children- a toddler and a baby- could set a family back over €2000 per month. The average net wage in Ireland? €2129 per month. Factor in the costs of going to work- petrol or bus fares, a cup of coffee on your break- and you can end up poorer than if you’d stayed at home. Of course, the thing about an average wage? Half of employed people will earn less than it.
And that’s all for Part Two. Keep an eye out for Part Three of this series, or read back on Part One.
In the meantime: is there something I’m missing? Have I left out campaigners and advocacy groups? Is there an issue that you’d like me to add to the list?
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