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RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor rejects claims guest invited on show to ‘trans wash’ Dublin Pride controversy

21-year-old Jacob Donegan, who is a trans man, was a guest on this morning's show

Brendan O'Connor. Picture by Steve Humphreys

Paul Hyland

RTÉ radio host Brendan O’Connor has rejected listeners’ suggestions that he invited a trans guest on his show in an attempt to “trans wash” the recent criticism which the RTÉ has come in for.

21-year-old Jacob Donegan, who is a trans man, was a guest on the popular Saturday morning show today.

Jacob is widely known to TikTok followers throughout Ireland and overseas and he has 1.2 million followers on the platform.

He joined Brendan O’Connor to talk about his success and how he shares his experiences to help others.

In the middle of the today’s interview, Mr O’Connor said he had received some “texts” from listeners who questioned the timing of Jacob’s appearance on the show.

“I’m getting some texts here… Just to say, it’s a complete coincidence that you’re on this week – obviously in the light of the other rows and everything – this is not part of some kind of trans washing project on behalf of RTÉ, you were booked to be on here anyway,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Mr Donegan responded: “Absolutely, before everything.”

An RTÉ spokesperson also confirmed to Independent.ie that: “The interview had been arranged in advance of the discussions on Liveline.”

It comes as the Oireachtas Committee on Media has invited RTÉ bosses to appear before it in the coming weeks to discuss its coverage of transgender issues, following the discussions on Liveline with Joe Duffy.

Dublin Pride announced on Tuesday that it would drop its media partnership with the State broadcaster over the matter.

Mr Donegan, who also works as a barber and a life coach, joined TikTok six years ago.

He said the most viewed videos on channel are his acting videos and also his workout videos which are “mostly” for trans people who are pre-transitioning.

He said these workouts are designed to help people to “understand that they can fix their body before any type of medical transformation”.

Mr Donegan said he has also documented his transition, from 2015 until now, in the hopes that his experience can help others in a similar situation.

The Carlow native said when he was six years old, he saw a story in a newspaper about a young “girl” who had transitioned to a “boy” and Jacob turned to his father and said, “that’s me”.

“I was never a typical girl. I was never a girl in society. I never fitted in with the whole dresses or make-up, I never wanted a bit of it. All I wanted to do was be my true self and that was to [be] male,” he said.

Mr Donegan said like many young trans people he was “confused” in the beginning, and he was anxious about what other people would think.

“Between the negative feelings at the beginning, you feel a sense of excitement because you’ve found out now why you’ve been feeling so different. There’s nothing wrong with me but I’ve found out the reason why I’ve been feeling so wrong in myself, and I can find the path of how I can make myself feel right,” he said.

“So that was a big opening. You feel excitement for the journey that’s about to come.”

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