President Michael D. Higgins hosted a reception for the members of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland last night.
In his speech, the President reflected on the changes in Ireland in relation to the vindication of the rights of LGBTI people, paying tribute to those who campaigned in favour of those rights over many years.
In his speech he referred to the struggles of the LGBT community in recent history, and also the successes they've experienced as of late. You can find the moving speech here.
Your visit here today provides us with a welcome opportunity to look back and take stock of the significant – if overdue, and painfully slow – advances that have recently been secured in our country as to the fundamental right of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) citizens to live equal, dignified and fulfilling lives.
The atmosphere that served as source to such opposition, delays, or lethargy, was an early twentieth century, rather than any essential aspect of Republicanism in its best sense, or the product of literary work of the Revival movement.
Transgender people experience what it is to live deprived of full rights, in the shadows of society, and stigmatised and mistreated. Over the past months, we have seen two significant steps on the journey towards equality – steps which were secured thanks to the watchful, determined and creative activism of organisations such as the Transgender Equality Network. These of course are the Marriage Act 2015 and the Gender Recognition Act 2015.
The Gender Recognition Act of 2015 is hugely significant in that it enables transgender people to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender identity and acquire a new birth certificate that reflects this identity.
The images taken at the event will warm your heart - showcasing President Higgins' warm character and incredible understanding.
What an incredible event, and a fantastic example.