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'I'm Relieved' Irish trans campaigner becomes one of the first in UK to get Covid vaccine

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Rebecca De Havilland

Rebecca De Havilland

Rebecca De Havilland

IRELAND’S first openly trans woman has spoken of her joy at being vaccinated against Covid-19 as it allows her to continue her frontline work helping patients with HIV.

In 1989, brave Rebecca De Havilland made headlines when she spoke to the media about transitioning from being a man to a woman.

She had endured bullying and ridicule but ultimately played a key role in changing Irish attitudes to LGBT rights.

Speaking this week, Rebecca (62) said she was given the jab in London and is one of the first people in the UK to be given the lifeline.

“I was at home in Ireland for Christmas when I got word by email that I was selected for the vaccine for Covid ,” Rebecca tells the Sunday World.

“I was thrilled as I have been self testing for some time now.

“I work for the NHS at 56 Dean St, which is part of Chelswest hospital group, and as a peer support worker so as being on the front line I qualified for it . “

“How times have changed,” she reflects on her vaccine this week.

“I’m lucky that I’m in good health but I do have underlying conditions, as in asthma – I have been very careful, but it has brought its own frustrations as I’m exempt from wearing masks as it effects my breathing but people aren’t so understanding about this.

“So you can imagine I jumped at the chance of the vaccine. It didn’t hurt, no side effects, slightly tender where I was injected.”

It was through having HIV that Rebecca became involved with the Terence Higgins Trust, which educates people about HIV and also looks after those who have it.

While there three years ago she met Prince Harry, who popped along to a charity function in the clinic.

“I first met Harry just before he got engaged to Megan and he comes along during HIV testing week and he did the finger prick to get tested,” she recalls.

“He was asking me about the work I do and I told him about going around Soho and doing health promotions.

“I said there’s only so many ways you can give out a condom and he started laughing. I had a good rapport with him”

She met him again two years ago.

“He remembered me and he’s so lovely, he’s very much like his mother in so many ways,” she reflects.

“Diana back in the day would go in to see patients dying from AIDS, before people knew what it was, yet she used hug them and hold their hands. He’s definitely her son, he’s a really nice man.”

Rebecca does a lot of work with Kensington Palace, where William and Kate live.

She has been taught the protocol of bringing groups into the palace on organised trips through her work with the hospital.

“They get people involved like cancer groups, people living with HIV or people with learning difficulties and so on,” she notes.

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