'Both the T and B in LGBTQ+ are invisible a lot of the time': Aoife Martin on what Pride means to her
"I always find it to be a lovely day but I also wish that a parade wasn’t necessary."
Trans rights activist Aoife Martin tells Her about embracing her identity, trans people's place in Pride and why she wishes LGBTQ+ people didn't have to march at all.
Growing up in a small village in the 70s and 80s, I wasn't aware of the LGBTQ+ community. Later, when I did become aware, I certainly never felt that I belonged. I’m not sure when the ‘T’ was added. As a trans person I felt isolated and alone.
It seems ridiculous now but I thought I was the only person who felt this way. I thought I was wrong. This only led to me feeling more isolated and feeling guilty about who I was. It’s a pretty toxic mix.
When I finally decided to accept and embrace who I am I got involved with trans activism and the wider LGBTQ+ community. I’m much more aware of the community and feel much more part of it than heretofore. However, I’m also acutely aware that both the T and B in LGBT are very much invisible a lot of the time. People are becoming much more aware but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Attitudes in society are changing but oh-so-slowly. The reason for this is that trans people are becoming more visible and more outspoken. I truly believe that it’s only by speaking up that we can normalise the trans experience.
A lot of trans people just want to get on with their lives. They’re happy living in stealth mode (this is when a trans person lives as the gender they identify with and don’t tell other people that they are trans) and I don’t begrudge them that at all. But it’s not for me. I want to make it easier for trans people who come after me. That is why I speak up.
I think trans people are starting to be included in the conversation around Pride but we still have a long way to go. Sara Philips of TENI was Grand Marshall of the Dublin Pride parade last year and it’s great to have that sort of visibility. I’m speaking at a number of events over Pride week and I think that goes to show that we are now being included in the conversation.
I think we need more visibility around issues that affect trans people disproportionately: healthcare, housing, unemployment, mental health issues. Yes, these things affect the broader community but they’re much more like to affect the trans community and in greater numbers.
I understand why some people are uneasy about certain aspects of Pride this year, like the guards being included and major brands getting involved. At the same time I work for a large corporation and I’m a member of the Pride Committee in our workplace so it would be churlish of me to complain about what Pride has become. I can see both sides of the argument.
The inclusion of corporations in the parade shows people that these companies are open and accepting of diversity and that they welcome employees who are LGBQT+. I think that’s a good thing. The issue with the guards is much more sensitive and I can understand people’s concerns. I get why there is alternative parade/protest happening on the same day.
Pride can feel a little weird. This will be my third Pride and I always find it to be a lovely day full of cheering crowds but I also wish that a parade wasn’t necessary.
I wish the LGBTQ+ community were treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else but that’s not the case; just ask a gay person if they feel comfortable walking down the street holding hands or kissing in public.
I’ll be celebrating by taking part in the parade with my work colleagues and I’m looking forward to the day – if it ever decides to stop raining in this godforsaken country.
You can follow Aoife on Twitter here.