The Tánaiste said that things have improved for trans people since the Gender Recognition Act was passed by the Government in 2015, allowing all individuals over the age of 18 to legally self-declare their own gender identity.
However, he said there is so much more to be done to help the community, adding that, “in terms of acceptance”, attitudes towards trans folk are no different than that of gay men two decades ago.
“It’s very difficult to be trans,” he told Hot Press in their new LGBTQ+ and Longitude special issue.
“The gender recognition legislation we introduced in the Fine Gael-Labour Government was a huge step forward and health services for trans people are slowly improving.
“But it is extraordinarily difficult to be trans in Ireland today and I think they are extraordinarily brave. I think they are probably where gay men were 20 years ago, in terms of the pathway to equality and acceptance.”
Varadkar said that the Government plans to clamp down on anti-LGBTQ+ crimes as homophobic attacks continue to rise across the country.
He also said that he’d like to see progress in terms of gender equality.
“I'd like to see us press ahead on gender parity,” he continued.
“We made great strides, but there is much more to do, ranging from modernising some parts of our constitution to closing the gender pay gap, as well as equal representation in parliament and the boardroom.
“We have plans to modernise our laws on hate crimes. We need to do more for the trans community. We need to improve sexual health services and fight the epidemic of gender-based and sexual violence.”
The Green Party politician said last month that nobody would be “left behind” by new legislation, which the Government has vowed to pass.
“It’s the intention of the Government to provide a ban on conversion therapy and conversion practices that addresses all members of the community – gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans,” he told the Irish Independent.
Minister O’Gorman said he has met people who have endured conversion therapy and suffered “lasting trauma” after someone had tried to force them to change “the very core of their being”.