Trans Limerick Community (TLC) is a peer support group for trans, non-binary, gender diverse and questioning adults based in Limerick. In May 2021, TLC hosted their first meeting on Zoom. Since then, TLC hosted online meetings on the second Tuesday of the month, from 6pm - 7.30pm.
Trans Limerick Community
William Keohane, founder and faciltator of Trans Limerick.
There weren’t any supports in Limerick for trans people when I came out. I remember taking regular buses up to Dublin just so I could talk to people who had similar experiences to me. Outhouse, on Capel Street, had been recommended by a close friend as queer-friendly place to go, and it was there that I met with members of the Small Trans Library. This was in October of 2019, and it was, I think, the first time in my life I had ever been in a room with only other trans people. The feeling was something I had almost forgotten I was capable of feeling — a feeling of intense relief; the total absence of fear. Yes, some nervousness, as there always is when you’re sitting in a room with new people. But no fear. Here, I felt like I could talk about what was going on in my life without worrying about explaining the basics. I felt like I was being heard, and implicitly understood. I wanted to bottle this feeling and take it back home with me. I wanted to stay in Dublin and not ever have to leave.
I had hoped that I’d be able to find something closer to Limerick that I could go to, but I searched, and I sent emails to a number of places. There wasn’t anything. Then, lockdown started. Online, I found a couple of support groups that were hosting monthly virtual meetings, and I signed into meetings that were based out of Wicklow, and Waterford. People were friendly, and empathetic, but (as was the case for everyone during the early days of lockdown) they were so far away.
About a year later, in early 2021, I figured that it was time to set something up in Limerick. I spoke with Lilith Carroll, the Community Development Officer at TENI (the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland) and she offered support and training resources so that I would be equipped to facilitate a peer-support group. I took some time to prepare and set a start date of Tuesday, May 11th, 2021.
Before the first TLC meeting, I really wasn’t sure how many people would attend. Lilith and her colleague Noah Halpin, from TENI, offered to come along as a show of support, which was very much appreciated. At the other meetings I had attended in Dublin, and online with the Waterford and Wicklow groups, even when it was a small number of us, the support (and even just the conversation) was meaningful. So, I thought that if maybe five or six people showed up to the first meeting — and already, Lilith and Noah had confirmed — then I would consider it to be a success.
Twenty people joined us on Zoom for our first meeting. It was then that I realized this was clearly something that people wanted, and maybe that they had been looking for. It just hadn’t happened yet.
Trans Limerick's (TLC) logo
Initially, I facilitated the meetings myself, but it wasn’t long before I had offers from others to help out, in any way they could. All of the work is voluntary, but with admin and emails and social media, there is a lot of it. Many hands make light work, or at least, lighter work. For the last year, Lauren and Raevynna have co-facilitated TLC’s monthly meetings with me. TLC would not be what it is today without their help. Along with our virtual meetings, TLC has also hosted three in-person meetings, all of which were well attended; a group picnic in the city centre, an indoor coffee meet-up, and an in-person peer support meeting. We also took a trip to Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway to hear Shon Faye speak about her incredible book, ‘The Transgender Issue’.
For Limerick pride, and for the very first time, TLC marched as a group in the parade. We also hosted a Trans Writing Showcase at Ormston House during Pride Week, to highlight some of the wonderful creative work being made by trans writers in the local area. Ormston House, an LGBTQ+ friendly art gallery and cultural centre located in Limerick City, has been a major ally to TLC since its inception. It is the support of these places, like Outhouse in Dublin and Ormston House in Limerick, and the people who run them, that truly make a difference.
Trans Limerick at the parade for Pride, 2022
TLC will continue to host its meetings virtually for the foreseeable future, with hopefully some more group outings and in-person meetings available to members, depending on health and safety guidelines. There are growing numbers of trans peer support groups in Ireland — our closest neighbours are Gender Rebels, in Cork, and Trans Kerry. We are hoping to collaborate more with other support groups in the future, as well.
Peer support groups are vital. The conversations, at times, are difficult, and often quite emotional. In absence of support from other institutions, and with growing hateful rhetoric in the media, peer support groups are perhaps more necessary now than they’ve ever been before. They are also places of joy, love, and friendship.
The difficulties we are facing now — the debates, the lack of healthcare access, the media discourse — I hope these are fleeting things. I hope we can survive them. But the friendships and the connections I have made through Trans Limerick Community — I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that these will last.