Pictured: Ari Sheils, Tonie Walsh, Katherine Zappone. Photo Credit: Ruth Murphy
Last Thursday saw the launch of UCD’s Gender Identity and Expression Policy. At the launch, UCD’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) group joined with UCD’s LGBTQ+ Society, and at the same event, the LGBTQ+ Society presented LGBT+ rights activist Tonie Walsh with their Foy-Zappone award.
The night featured several speakers including President Andrew Deeks, Vice President for EDI Colin Scott, Paula McGarry who worked on the policy, as well as the award’s namesake Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone and Dr. Lydia Foy.
Achievements of the policy were highlighted by several speakers. The policy will allow students to change their name on the registry without having to obtain a gender recognition certificate and it should also lead to the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms in UCD.
All speakers praised the policy, and Deeks stated that over 100 members of UCD staff have already been trained on implementing the policy.
Dr. Lydia Foy outlined her decades long struggle to change the name on her birth cert to match the gender she identifies with.
Zappone highlighted in her speech that the current national Gender Recognition policy does not allow for people under the age of 16 to change their gender on national documents and said that we still have further to go.
Ari Sheils, auditor of the UCD LGBTQ+ society presented the Foy-Zappone award to Tonie Walsh along with secretary Sam Brophy. In his acceptance speech Walsh recalled the early days of what was then UCD Gay Soc and how nobody wanted to man the Gay Soc stand during Freshers’ Week. The Welfare Officer at the time Bridget Ruane stepped in and took over the stand.
Walsh did an impression of David Norris objecting to the use of the word “queer” arguing that Norris needs to catch up and embrace the term. Norris was awarded the Foy-Zappone award last year. At the event he stated his case against the word “queer” but encouraged using the word “fairies” to describe gay men. Previous recipients of the award including the Irish Times journalist Una Mulally and former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh.
Towards the close of his speech Tonie Walsh said that now we need to repeal the 8th amendment. This remark was greeted with applause and he received a standing ovation when he finished his speech.
The speeches were followed by a performance by Gloria, Dublin’s gay and lesbian choir.
The effects of the policy can already be felt. Students have managed to change their name on UCD documents and more will continue to do so.