Irish transgender teens sent to the UK for treatment by desperate parents
UK options currently surpass anything on offer in Ireland
Irish teenagers with trans identities, who may at a later date want to change their sex, are being referred to a UK clinic for hormone blocking treatment to slow the progression of puberty.
The treatment helps them to reduce the amount of surgery they may need later in life if they decide to opt for a sex-change operation as adults.
According to the Independent, three Irish adolescents have recently been sent by the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) to the Tavistock Clinic in London for the kind of treatment that can help them cope by slowing the development of their sexual organs.
But many Irish parents are being forced to pay for the costly overseas treatment for their teenagers themselves, often having to buy the prescribed drugs via the internet, the paper claims.
Vanessa Lacey, the health and education officer for the support group Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), told the Independent that some parents were often just trying to keep their child - trapped in the wrong body and traumatised by the onset of puberty – alive.
Lacey, 49, was born male and raised in Waterford city, but says her 'gender identity for as long as I can remember was female.'
Lacey went to a Catholic boys school and married a woman with whom she had two children. Six years ago, she came out as transgender and now lives as a woman.
The tranquillity she feels now has been hard-won she says. 'I seriously considered taking my life because I was afraid of the shame I would bring on my family. I left school at 14 after failing every exam because I could not concentrate. My children have supported me. My mother died two-and-a-half years ago, and prior to that did not talk to me.'
Lacey says that some desperate Irish parents are now being forced to take drastic measures because their transgendered children are suicidal and can not access hormone treatment in Ireland until they are 16.
To address this disparity discussions are reportedly under way in Ireland to try to offer the same treatment, which is reversible, in one of Dublin's main children's hospitals.
The move comes as the HSE says it is expanding the services available to adults and teenagers who are transgender.
It's estimated there are around 50,000 people who feel they were born the wrong sex in Ireland. The rate of attempted suicide among them is as high as 40 percent which can be attributed to lack of treatment, understanding, social stigma, loss of employment and the experience of family rejection.
Gender re-assignment surgery is not available in Ireland, and patients have had to travel to Britain or Belgium. A spokeswoman for the HSE said it had paid for around 27 sex-change operations for Irish people in the past five years.
'We can confirm an average cost of an assessment and the associated surgical procedure of a transgender case abroad is circa $40,000,' she said.
HSE director Philip Crowley said the executive was in the process of designing a proper treatment system.
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