Louise Hannon

Be who you are. Let nobody dictate how you should live.

I am who I am. You are who you are. We are all different, but if you are Muslim, Roman Catholic, a traveller, a painter, an actor, or an unemployed person, tall, over weight, you also need to be yourself in everything that you do.

Living authentically, accepting who you are many of us take for granted, until someone comes along and says that you are not authentic that you should be something else. That you are flawed.

The traveller community, and the black African community know all about that. So also do the Gay community. Racism, discrimination, call it what you will there are those in Irish society and further afield, who think that a minority has no right to be that minority.

What right has anyone to tell me how I should live? How I should dress? How I should be a clone and not an individual with differing tastes and styles. What right has Julie Burchill or Suzanne Moore or the Pope for that matter to tell me I am not fitting within their paramaters of what a fellow human being should be. I cannot subscribe to any religion which tells me that I am not worthy and there are too many on this planet trying to control me and restrict my view of myself and my self worth

I could take it further and ask what right have the Anti Choice movement in Ireland today to impose their restricting views on the right of a women to make a choice about abortion, which affects her own body integrity. Nobody has that right, it should be a woman's choice alone with her closest family.

Everyone has a right and a choice to be themselves provided they do not by their actions adversly affect the lives of others. By that criteria no one has the right to look down on others and say how they should live.

The sad fact however is that some human beings think they have the God given right to dictate to others, how to lead their lives and that leads to intolerance and bigotry, no matter how you dress it up.

My late father once said to me that some religious people would lead you to believe with their strong narrow biblical views that they had been to heaven or hell and back. All I can say is if Jesus were on earth today he would be in the temples over turning the money changers tables AGAIN..
An example http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2013/0122/breaking31.html
Louise Hannon

We should be proud of all our Gards and so should their leaders

I don't vent my written anger often enough. I find it quite frustrating when I do so because all it does is raise my blood pressure. For that reason and because we have had a change of government and therefore there is supposedly less for me to get angry about I've been quiet recently that is ...till now.
One event in the last fortnight really upset me.

It was the Dublin Pride parade where we had an international contingent of gay police from far and wide who proudly joined our parade here in full uniform. Isn't that wonderful? Indeed it is because they saw how we in Ireland treat our guests with warmth and kindness. The unfortunate thing was that we did not treat our own gay officers of An Garda in the same way as they could not march in the parade in uniform, only in track suits and civvies. What every police force in Europe allows our Garda commissioner put a stop to.

Doesn't that send a terrible message to every gay Gard? Where is the respect and dignity to gay officers in a force which was awarded a Gala a few years ago for their gay friendliness.

Has something changed or have the LGBT population missed something recently? What this decree has also done is to throw the increasing confidence that the LGBT population have in the Gards into reverse. It will also encourage gay officers to remain in the closet in case their promotion prospects are diminished.
I say this is a dammed disgrace and it should NOT happen at Pride next year under any circumstances. We should be proud of our Gards and proud of their uniform. They do a very difficult and dangerous job which the whole population should be grateful for no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Louise Hannon

An open letter to Brian Walsh TD.

Dear Brian Walsh TD.,

Regarding your ill informed comments today recorded by Fiona Gartland in the Irish Times regarding transgender treatment and costs. The cost of surgery is not for cosmetic purposes, far from it. Being transgender is not a lifestyle choice as you are reported to think. It is a life and death clinical condition which is widely accepted and treated in every developed country in the world.

If Ireland was to cut funding for transgender people, there would be more suicides, more families ruined. We would be the only country in Europe who would be denying medical treatment for a recognised medical condition. Is that what you want?

By giving treatment we allow people to become productive members of society paying taxes and leading fulfilling lives. By denying treatment we force people to become a burden on society on social welfare.

Do we allow politicians like yourself to decide who is treated on the basis of ill informed transphobic prejudice. Where would that stop? Would we deny treatment to children who are born with physical defects which can be fixed by surgery. Would we deny a lung transplant to an addicted smoker or a liver transplant to an alcoholic? You need to become educated. I doubt that you have probably never met a transgendered person in your life.

Finally I'm disgusted that you have the stupidity to make transphobic comments without any obvious knowledge of the condition whatsoever. Do you do this on other serious subjects?


Louise Hannon
Louise Hannon

The Fianna Fail Bible according to Councillor O'Callaghan

Let me give you two definitions of a word that came to mind yesterday.
Myopic .....Nearsighted: unable to see distant objects clearly.

Myopic .....Lacking imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight

I was reading Councillor Jim O'Callaghan's newsletter to the Dublin south East constituency which landed on my door mat. In this one page document he gives us his insight into why Fianna Fail lost the last election so disastrously.

In no particular order of merit
a/ FF allowed a property bubble to develop
b/ FF allowed increased spending on the assumption that the revenue from housing would continue indefinitely.
c/ FF assumed that the Financial Regulator was not asleep at the wheel
Probably correct
d/ FF was in government when the party sought loans from the IMF/EU
Correct, but who was responsible for this? Fianna Fail/Greens
Other less obvious facts according to the theory of O'Callaghan
e/ FF was organisationally weak.
f/ FF was fielding the same faces year after year and not attracting new faces
g/ Ultimately FF lost it's vision.

The first three of these reasons are correct, the rest does not even address the issues and treats the voters of this constituency with contempt. We can think for ourselves. He needs to know that for a start.

Jim O'Callaghan also needs to know that people left FF in droves because of pure chicanery, cronyism and the pure greed of their TDs. The “soldiers of destiny” were not honest with the people clinging to power and postponing by elections until they were forced by Pearse Doherty to hold one. Then they loaded all the financial problems of their building company and banking buddies onto the shoulders of the people who could least afford to pay, the unemployed and those on low incomes.

Wake up Mr O'Callaghan smell the coffee. His leaflet was in my bin in seconds and I suspect the same thing happened in many households if the voters even took time to read it. By the way I had to fish through my bin to put the pieces together to make sure I wrote this correctly.

Louise Hannon

Enid Blyton would turn in her grave.

It's Friday evening and another fascinating week in Noddy land. The talk of Gay Byrne for President and Fintan O'Toole's very objective if cutting dissection of his chances and his flaws was very insightful and probably correct. Byrne has been very assiduous at not letting the public see the inner man and his private thoughts. Not an easy trick over so many long years in the very public eye.

On the bigger Noddy Island the kids took to the streets to let rip and burn a few shops aided by this wonderful Blackberry device that I'm struggling to get to grips with this week, having jettisoned my faithful Nokia for supposedly easy internet access on the move. Perhaps I should contact some of these kids in Manchester or London jails for advice on working this little piece of kit.

I often wondered why we don't riot more in this youthful republic..The last time was the time some had a go at the orange men on O'Connell St who had the affrontry to tell us we need to Love Ulster. Of course we love Ulster but not on O'Connell St looking like a building site on a Saturday afternoon. We don't like their type on our capitals streets it seems. Which brings me to ask why given the recession and the consequent rise in poverty, why the poor and under nourised in our society haven't rioted on this issue long before now? Do we accept poverty? Do we accept lack of work? Do we accept that the rich will still be rich and the poor will still be poor through thick and thin?

Do we roll over and while complaining just get on with life? After all very few complain if a restaurant meal is bad, we just don't go back. Do the left in this country and the unions who should be leading the drive for a more equal society work hard enough or logically enough to gain our support? The Labour movement has been around since before Connolly's time and yet the Labour Party in this country has never been in overall power on it's own.. Does that not tell us how conservative we are as a people? At the last election we voted for a conservative right wing party (FG) to replace another largely right wing party (FF). We have left wing independents in the Dail right now, and attempts to form a very left of centre party have so far not been too successful.

So will we see riots in our streets any time soon over the real issues of grinding poverty and an underclass that is alienated from mainstream society? I doubt it very much because we as a society are still influenced by the values of decency, and the willingness to help others less fortunate. Values which ironically came from the deep religious beliefs ingrained in us all by the Catholic church over generations. A church which by it's own hand has destroyed the respect many had for the institution by it's inability to control perverted priests. That is the irony of today's situation. While England burns, Ireland simmers but never boils over.

Louise Hannon

David Norris and Goliath

We have a situation at the moment where a man who is standing to become the President of Ireland is being pilloried by many in the press and those who are more holy than thou. Ireland is full of hypocrisy. We have full time politicians in the Dail and Seanad of this country who have done a lot worse than Senator David Norris. A politician pleading for a criminal by letter. Another bending the financial rules. Another phoning the President to influence events. We know who they all are don't we?

He wrote a letter asking for leniency for a former partner in a court case in Israel.. Norris did not commit any crime. His former partner committed that crime.
How many people in this country have or would do the same thing for their partner or former lover. If you believe in someone and what they have done is out of character, then of course if it stops them being incarcerated in prison would you not do what David Norris did? I tell you most people would do exactly the same. It matters not one jot whether that person is your husband, son daughter etc.
David Norris should be allowed to stand and let the people decide.

Edited 6pm
David Norris statement

Louise Hannon

First impression of the GRAG Report

I was at the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) report launch yesterday by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton TD. It was a very civilised affair indeed, until the report was digested in the half hour or so before Minister Burton's arrival. Then came the shock as people read what is being proposed, but in fact it should have been no shock. It should have been expected. The report is a copy and paste for the most part of the UK act which came into force in 2005

Some were greatly annoyed by it, however this report has to be taken in the context of a constitutional arm lock and a report group where there was no transgender representation whatsoever. It was written by well meaning civil servants but with no prior knowledge or understanding of being transgendered. The report depends very much on a medical model of diagnosis and treatment, which leans very heavily on mental health as a diagnosis, and as a means of progressing to full state legal recognition.

This is flawed but not surprising, and I'll tell you why. It depends on the American Psychiatric Association model of diagnosis for those who are transgendered. A mental health diagnosis attaches a stigma to transgendered people as having mental health issues. They have no more mental health issues than any other segment of the population...I know many in the community who are self employed, hold down good jobs and some who are unemployed, like any other sector of the population. We also need to look at how we as a people support those in the population with mental health issues and destigmatise, but that's for another day.

The irony of it is that we must be diagnosed with a mental health disorder to become legally recognised by the state, when in fact it's a clinical condition treated by hormones and surgery.
Being transgendered is a conflict which we are born with where the brain is mentally opposite to the physical gender at birth... Transgender people have been around for centuries but only now are we understanding the medical issues involved.

Some of the Irish population have mental health issues as in any country and the large majority would not be transgender, but imagine if the state decided to legally ignore them, there would be an outcry. This is what is happening now to those who are in sound marriages and are transgendered. They are being asked to choose between a Gender Recognition Certificate which gives them legal status in the State in their true gender (on mental diagnosis), or stay in a loving supportive marriage where they cannot be legally recognised... That's an impossible choice for anyone to make and it is a human rights/equality issue. If there are children to consider, then it's more difficult again..I'm really upset for my friends who are in this situation. There has to be a better way forward.

We have a constitution which was written over 70 years ago in a completely different time and our legislators are having to go through hoops to avoid a constitutional challenge. Surely it's time we had a look at the constitution?

The remainder of the report, ignores those who are intersexed and it also states that the Data Protection Act and the Equal Status and Employment Equality Acts are adequate to cover those transgendered. What would have happened if my own discrimination case had been rejected, would the group have come out in favour of strengthening the law to include transgender under the gender grounds.? We will never know. This has sadly been very much a lost opportunity in progressive treatment of Irish transgendered people in law, unless changes are made.

Louise Hannon

The positive and negative results of the publicity

The weeks past have been busy for me so it's about time I gave some attention to this blog.

A number of things have jumped out at me in recent days which I hadn't noticed before. When I'm out people are saying “Hello Louise” in shops. They are friendly and welcoming, which is wonderful. However the downside is that in some places I visit I also get some mild aggravation from people who are obviously not accepting of my gender status. A transgender friend and I had this in a hostelry in town the other evening..

When talking to a man friend, some women sidled over and whispered in his ear “ Do you know you are talking to a man” He wasn't bothered, but what prompts people to get so worked up? Is it jealously, their own insecurity or what? I'm at a loss to know frankly, but I'm getting so used to it by now that it's water off a duck. I was even refused a drink in a well known bar this week with a friend by a barman, who I think was embarrassed a tad, but we shall see where that one ends up.

Some transgender friends are telling me that while they are very well qualified in the jobs that they do and are applying for promotion they are being overlooked. I suppose part of that lies in the fact that they are seen as women and perhaps have the usual female glass ceiling to break as well as being seen as transgender women. It seems Ireland has a long way to go and I can see one of the consequences of all the recent publicity over the Dr Lydia Foy case and my own case that the transgender profile has been raised and perhaps employers are being a little cautious in employing transgender people.

I hope that is not the case in reality, but with some other people I'm hoping to set up a register of employers who are comfortable in taking on transgender employees and also happy to publish such information. Most multinational companies who work here in Ireland have realised long ago that there is no place in work for homophobia or transhobia and that the bottom line shows this to be true. Lets hope we can convince the SMEs in Ireland of the same benefit to their bottom line sooner rather than later.

On a slightly more weird note I was booked to do the photography at a Civil Partnership by two gay gays only to be told two hours later that one of the guys parents had a difficulty with me being transgendered, and they canceled and wanted their deposit back. (They didn't get it BTW) This really took me to the fair. Gay people I had thought would show more back bone, but it seems not...I don't hold out much hope of their partnership lasting if parents have so much influence, but good luck to them.

Louise Hannon

Is there a visionary around?

I was at a mental health event organised by the Labour Equality Co-ordinating Council on Thursday night, where the speakers were among others Minister for Equality Kathleen Lynch TD, Dan Neville TD along with Shane Butler TCD an expert on addiction and a GP who works with mental health in the inner city every day Dr Austin O'Carroll.

The lack of mental healthcare facilities was frightening and in a so called modern state totally unacceptable. The conclusion that one speaker came to was that there are no votes in mental health and as a population we tend to speak of mental health in the same way as we used to speak of cancer or even longer ago TB.

This is just a symptom of what is wrong in our society. We have no politicians who can see the wider picture in terms of where we as a society are moving. The Celtic Tiger focused many TDs to concentrate on economic issues rather than on the wider need to inform society of what the broader issues facing us are and will be.. Only now in a recession are we hearing how cuts in spending which was never great at the best of times will effect those on the margins. We have had two great Presidents in the two Marys who have taken difficult issues head on and we need that to continue with the next incumbent of the Aras. The President is no longer or should be no longer a symbolic largely ceremonial figure. He or she should be someone who challenges societies inequalities, leads the people in raising awareness of what is lacking and places a marker for us to follow.
It will be on that basis that I judge and cast my vote for the next President. Have we currently in the list already announced found that person? The answer is I don't know. I see attributes that each currently are highlighting but I don't see the over all rounded statesman or woman that we need.

Louise Hannon

Welcome Ma am

So the Queen has arrived amid tight security. As a proud Irish woman and a republican, I welcome the normalisation of relations between the UK and Ireland. Having lived in the north of Ireland for a long time and having listened to the propaganda from both sides of the political divide, it strikes me that some will still be unhappy there.

Unionist will regail you with how many Ulster men lost their lives at the Battle of the Somme in the Great War. In the Republic those who fought in both the WW1 and WW2 for Britain have largely been ignored until recent times, and almost airbrushed from history in the wake of the events of 1916. It's right that the Queen acknowledges both traditions in her visit, even though the sight of her standing head bowed at the Garden of Remembrance will cause a few Unionists to choke on their dinner watching it on television last evening. Unfortunately some republicans or those today who still use violence to try and gain a thirty two county state have still not got the message.

This is not 1969. After forty years of conflict and some resolution, this island is a better place at peace rather than at war with itself.

On a personal level, I have no time for the British Monarcy and can only see one purpose for it and that is to bring tourist revenue into state coffers because they can sure put on a show as we saw at last months royal wedding. Princess Diana was the only royal I ever had time for and I suspect there are many like me. In terms of the Queens visit, if it helps our tourist industry, it has to be welcomed, and as an historic event it has few equals, in my life time.

The last time I was taken to see the Queen pass I was five, today many decades later, I saw her pass over the Luas at Heuston station. I couldn't help but think of the enormous changes since that time. The Queen was in her late twenties, when I first saw her and is now a still sprightly eighty five year old.
The best of Irish Luck to you maam.

ma'am - Wiktionary
( ma'am is mostly obsolete, with a few exceptions. It must be used when addressing the Queen in place of Your Majesty)

Shane Hegarty via Twitter