Rose Of Tralee CEO calls transgender ban "silly"

Speaking to the media today, Anthony O'Gara said it is a "sensitive situation"

Rose Of Tralee CEO calls transgender ban "silly"

Roses for 2016 Rose of Tralee International Festival with Daithi O Se (left) | Image:

Updated at 17:18

The CEO of the Rose of Tralee said it would be "completely silly" to ban transgender women from entering the competition.

Speaking on RTÉ this afternoon in response to a story in the Irish Mirro Anthony O'Gara said:

"It's a sensitive situation that we have to prepare ourselves for," he said, "but it isn't the case that transgender women are banned or barred - that would be completely silly." 

Earlier today, it was reported that the Rose of Tralee festival would not be considering currently considering allowing transgender women to enter the contest.

Applications have opened for this year's festival, with selection events taking place from February until June.

Currently, in order to compete certain criteria must be fulfilled. Roses must:

  • Be 18 years of age by January 1st 2017 and will not have reached your 28th birthday on or prior to September 1st 2017.
  • Be unmarried or never been married.
  • Be female, born in Ireland or an Irish citizen or of Irish origin by virtue of one of your ancestors having been born in Ireland.
  • For applicants residing outside the island of Ireland - be living in the region you wish to represent for a minimum of one year and recommend that if selected as the Rose that you will remain resident in this region for the following 12 months.
  • Never have previously represented any Centre as a Rose in the Regional Festival or International Rose of Tralee Selection.

It is unclear whether this criteria recognises the Gender Recognition Act 2015 and those who have received new birth certificates under the Act.

A spokesman told the Irish Mirror: "The Festival is a progressive organisation that always strives to reflect changes in society in the entry guidelines for women.

"Transgender women entering is not something we are considering at the moment, however, we will continue to review our guidelines."

"A proud history of being progressive"

Brianna Parkins, last year's representative from Sydney, said she was saddened to hear of the ban on Twitter.

"The has a proud history of being progressive. Sad about the trans ban but hopeful it might be reconsidered," the tweet reads.

She had previously encouraged "all feminists/mixed race/queer/trans ladies" to apply to be this year's Sydney Rose.


Mayor of Tralee

In comments to the Irish Examiner, Mayor of Tralee Terry O'Brien called on festival organisers to review their decision.

However, speaking to Newstalk, Mr O'Brien said the festival would have to make their own call when it came to the rules.

"The council is independent of the festival, and the decision will be the Rose of Tralee's at the end of the day," he said.