Why these Irish mammies spend their weekends protesting on the streets for trans youth

Mammies for Trans Rights

“As parents ourselves, we said: ‘Who’s going to stand up for them if it’s not us’,” says Claire Flynn, a founder of Mammies for Trans Rights.

Claire, along with Karen Sugrue and other mothers and parents in Ireland, campaign in support of trans youth.

The movement began because of the “terrible fear, upset and distress” felt by trans youth in Ireland and beyond, the two women tell PinkNews.

These feelings were highlighted by the death of trans student Brianna Ghey, who was found with fatal stab wounds in in a Warrington park, in February.

A boy and girl, both aged 15 at the time, and who can’t be named for legal reasons, have been charged with Ghey’s murder. A trial is set to begin at Manchester Crown Court in November.

“Nobody was normalising the experience of trans people, because of fear,” Karen, a sociology lecturer and psychotherapist, tells PinkNews.

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Claire, who has a trans daughter and works in mental health and community development, adds: “We’re aiming to reduce the noise by [a] small few who don’t agree with trans rights, and amplify the voices of those who are supportive.

”Our goal is to remind [others] that trans people are more than just their transness.” 

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She says the grassroots group is a place that offers people who don’t know how to support the trans community somewhere to do exactly that.

“We’re trying to create a space in which there’s an alternative narrative. Maybe their own mother isn’t in a place to give them the support they need, but it gives young people something huge to see: that there are mams for whom it’s a completely normal experience.

“Our job as parents is to hold space for you to be adored as the person you are.”

Founders of Mammies for Trans Rights: Claire Flynn and Karen Sugrue. (Mammies for Trans Rights)
Founders of Mammies for Trans Rights, Claire Flynn (L) and Karen Sugrue. (Mammies for Trans Rights)

The group of about 10 active women protest for trans rights mainly at weekends.

“We’ve had the most incredible couple of months marching. I get goosebumps thinking about,” Karen says, adding that people have been overwhelming positive towards them.

However, the group does attract negativity from what the pair call a minority, with “focused attacks” having caused Karen to contact the police, who, she says, have also been supportive.

She points out that the idea of gender binary “has not served us well” and says it’s important to unpick the very idea of it. 

Both women admit to be still figuring everything out, with Claire saying: “It’s OK to be uncomfortable. 

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“We really feel for the trans children, the parents of trans children,” she adds. “The trans community as a whole [is] being othered, monsterised and demonised in the media.

“There’s no one there to say these are teenagers, kids, they’re just living their lives.”

Karen believes the rise in dehumanising narratives has led to aggression towards the queer community across Europe. 

“They exploit people’s vulnerability and loneliness, and are also yearning to be part of a community. Unfortunately, that community leads them into attacking trans rights and the LGBTQ+ community.” 

However, in Ireland, the community is “really overwhelming welcoming of people who are traditionally seen as marginalised”, both mothers say.

“We’re sick of these far-right people trying to tell us who should and shouldn’t be here, because that’s not who we are,” Claire adds.

Mammies for Trans Rights aim to create a space where everyone is welcome.
Mammies for Trans Rights want to let transgender youngsters know they are loved. (Mammies for Trans Rights)

They both want trans people, everywhere, to know they’re “loved, doing the right thing” and “entitled to be who you are”. 

On Saturday (16 September), the group will be protesting, along with allies from all over the country, against proposed book bans in Ireland.

Protests over the stocking of LGBTQ+ books in Ireland’s libraries resulted in a man in Cork being arrested for alleged harassment last month.

Counter-protestors have gathered at most rallies in a bid to tackle the right-wing backlash, which has seen Cork City Council forced to shut a library ahead of a demonstration.

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