Belfast Telegraph

Changing times for Northern Ireland as study says 72% don't have problem with transgender

The academic study by Ark, a joint initiative between Queen's University and Ulster University, revealed that 21% remain prejudiced against the transgender community - but 72% of the population now describe themselves as 'not prejudiced at all' (stock photo)
The academic study by Ark, a joint initiative between Queen's University and Ulster University, revealed that 21% remain prejudiced against the transgender community - but 72% of the population now describe themselves as 'not prejudiced at all' (stock photo)
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A transgender woman has welcomed the findings of a new report which suggests the vast majority of society hold no prejudice against her community.

Just one in five show signs of intolerance, the survey indicated.

Adrianne Elson (48), who arrived in Belfast 14 years ago as Adrian, said she was confronted with a daily barrage of abuse during her early days living as a transitional female.

The academic study by Ark, a joint initiative between Queen's University and Ulster University, revealed that 21% remain prejudiced against the transgender community - but 72% of the population now describe themselves as 'not prejudiced at all'.

And that, said Adrianne, is "very encouraging".

"I have noticed a definite improvement when I'm out in Belfast in the past few years," she said.

"The abuse used to be daily, but it has subsided considerably. Sometimes it can actually feel quite surreal to walk about without incident.

"I've been called some quite awful, sexualised things in my life. I used to take a deep breath before stepping out of the house. I can go weeks now without any incident and that's a big change.

"There has been a lot more exposure of transgender issues in the media and that has led to a greater understanding.

"Perhaps some of our politicians should dwell on the data and act on it - are they really representative of the community when the majority is content to accept people for who they are?

"And while a quarter of the population is still high, it's really no different to other cities across the UK."

Adrianne has been involved with Trans Pride NI and said the higher profile given to her community has been beneficial.

"Events organised by Trans Pride NI have really helped and there has been an awful lot of work to get this community to the stage we're at now," she said.

"But we can't afford to be complacent. There's a constant battle for acceptance and we're on a long journey with some distance to go. There are still a lot of issues facing the transgender community.

"I'm fortunate that I was already in a career, working in the railway industry, but for young people who identify as transgender things are still difficult. It's hard to get jobs. True acceptance is different to tolerance."

The report also found more than half approve of, or are comfortable with, transgender people accessing public toilets, utilising domestic violence refuges and changing their legal gender.

Females were found to be considerably more comfortable than males.

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