Taoiseach calls for ‘respectful’ debate on trans issues

Varadkar says he ‘really hates trans people being targeted as a threat to others’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called for a public “discussion and debate” about transgender rights, given the “genuine questions people are asking”.

But he added the debate should take place in a way that recognises trans people are a small minority and a lot of them “are very vulnerable people”.

Mr Varadkar said: “I really hate that idea of them being targeted as people who are a threat to children or a threat to others. They are no more a threat to others than any other group in society and I really hope people will avoid straying into that space”.

Speaking to reporters in Delgany, Co Wicklow, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t like to see people talking about them as if somehow they are a threat to others, they are no more a threat to others than people who aren’t trans or straight people or gay people.”


Mr Varadkar said there “are genuine questions people are asking, there are parents at the moment who have trans girls and trans boys and they are struggling to work out what is best for their kids”. He said there are people who have children in school who have a trans child in the class “and a lot of this is new to people”.

Calling for a respectful debate Mr Varadkar said “I think we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it, because if we don’t talk about it and anchor it in the centre, then the extremes will do all the talking and they just want to shout at each other and score points”.

“I think we do need to talk about it, but let’s do it in a way that understands we are talking about individuals, we are talking about families, we are often talking about quite vulnerable people. Let’s try to be sensitive in our comments, let’s listen to each other and lets try to avoid anything that is disrespectful” he said.

The Taoiseach said he did not think the debate would impact on the Constitutional referendum on gender equality and removing a constitutional reference to a woman’s place being in the home, scheduled for November.

“I really don’t think it should have any impact on this year’s referendum. I am sure that people will try to make some sort of connection but I am sure it will be a pretty tenuous and bogus one”, he said.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist