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Advancing LGBTQIA+ Health: Insights from the UCD Symposium

Wednesday, 13 March, 2024

LGBTG+ Health Symposium

On the 29th of February 2024 the UCD LGBTQIA+ Health Symposium emerged as a pivotal platform, echoing the strides made in research aimed at enhancing the well-being of LGBTQIA+ individuals in Ireland. The symposium, hosted by the UCD IRIS Centre for Research Education and Innovation in Health Systems, brought together diverse voices, from seasoned academics to community advocates, shedding light on the multifaceted challenges faced by sexual and gender minorities.

Professor Eilish McAuliffe, Director of the IRIS centre opened the event welcoming the diverse audience and array of speakers to UCD, noting the importance of these events, the second hosted by the centre to advancing equity in the health system. Professor Agnes Higgins from Trinity College Dublin set the tone with a keynote that delved into her three-decade journey in leading research on sexual and gender minority health. She shared the evolution of attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ health issues, noting the trajectory towards increased recognition, funding, and institutional support. Professor Higgins, an ally to the community, underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in dismantling barriers to better health outcomes.

LGBTQ Symposium Images

Dr. Chris Noone of the University of Galway addressed a critical aspect often overlooked – the intersection of clinical psychology and minority sexualities. His presentation emphasised the urgent need to enhance the understanding of mental health in the LGBTQIA+ community. By bridging the gap between clinical psychology and minority sexualities, Dr. Noone highlighted the potential for improved mental health interventions tailored to the unique needs of sexual and gender minorities. Andras Koltó, also from the University of Galway, based at  the Health Promotion Research Centre, navigated the impact of COVID-19 on sexual and gender minority adolescents. His research urged a broader acknowledgment of various identities in health studies, recognising the distinct challenges faced by these adolescents during a global health crisis.

The following session focussed on issues of Trans and Intersex Health. Sean Kearns, a Candidate ANP in Gender and UCD PhD student, presented research on the positive impact of an educational program for transgender individuals seeking gender-affirming surgery. His work showcased the transformative power of education in empowering individuals navigating the complexities of gender identity and healthcare choices. Dr. Aidan Kelly from GenderPlus, a private clinic for Gender-Affirming care in the UK and Ireland, challenged prevalent notions surrounding gender dysphoria onset. By presenting compelling data, Dr. Kelly dismantled the concept of random onset gender dysphoria, a frequently cited argument against gender care for young people. This research challenges societal norms, paving the way for a more inclusive understanding of gender identity.

Sean Saifa Wall, a PhD student from the University of Huddersfield, shed light on the glaring exclusion of intersex communities from policy discussions in Ireland and England. His presentation emphasized the imperative of recognizing and addressing the unique needs of intersex individuals, calling for policy changes to ensure inclusivity in healthcare discussions.

The final session focussed on issues of health screening and sexual health. Lynn Swinburne, a health promotion officer in the HSE national screening service, demonstrated the commitment of the HSE towards inclusivity in healthcare services. Swinburn highlighted ongoing efforts to make screening services more inclusive for sexual and gender minorities, a crucial step towards equitable healthcare for all.

John Gilmore LGBTQ Symposium

Dr John Gilmore, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems then presented research exploring the experiences of mpox in Ireland. This research was commissioned by the MPOWER Programme at HIV Ireland and funded by the HSE. The mpox public health emergency demonstrated multifaceted challenges as well as opportunities for improved practice. Within the presentation Dr Gilmore addressed Stigma in healthcare, global health inequalities, and the role of community organisations in improving healthcare outcomes. It is hoped this work prompts a reflection on global health crises, and how they are managed, urging a holistic and community-driven approach to healthcare.

David Field of the Gay Men's Health Service and PhD student at the University of Aberdeen concluded the symposium with a novel study rethinking the concept of risk in sexual health discourse for gay men. By challenging traditional frameworks, David’s research opens avenues for a more nuanced and inclusive approach to sexual health discussions, recognising the issues in how risk as a category is understood, measured and used to decide on health interventions.

This symposium, was organised by Dr John Gilmore and funded through UCD seed funding for research into equality, diversity, and inclusion. It attracted a diverse audience from community organisations to clinicians, policy makers, researchers, and members of the wider LGBTQIA+ community and allies, and served as a melting pot of insights and collaboration. The shared commitment to advancing LGBTQIA+ health is a beacon of hope, signalling a future where research, policy, and healthcare delivery are truly inclusive and responsive to the unique needs of sexual and gender minorities in Ireland and beyond.

In closing the event Dr Gilmore thanked UCD IRIS and Professor McAuliffe for the ongoing support for sexual and gender minority health research within the school, as well as the funders, presenters and participants.

This was the second LGBTQIA+ Health Symposium hosted by UCD IRIS and the fifth event focussed on LGBTQIA+ Health hosted by the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems in recent years.

For further information on our research in this area contact (opens in a new window)john.gilmore@ucd.ie

Contact the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems

Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4
T: +353 1 716 6488 | Location Map(opens in a new window)