Activist Shares Story Of Woman Who Anonymously Donated Her Clothes & Makeup To Trans Youth — It Turned Out To Be Sinéad O'Connor

Sinéad O'Connor was many things, and a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ people was chief among them.

images of sinead o'connor's lgbtq+ activism iprogressman / Getty Images; Oksana Vejus, Lais Schulz via Canva, Man Alive!; CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

The news of Sinéad O'Connor's recent death at 56 has sparked all sorts of remembrances of the Irish singer, from her powerful musical voice to her outspoken acts of protest. 

O'Connor was of course famous, not to mention infamous, for her fights against the Catholic Church and her rejection of the more louche impulses of the fame- and money-obsessed music industry.

But amid all these remembrances have come several stories about O'Connor's lesser known advocacy for LGBTQ+, and especially transgender, people, often in understated but wildly generous ways.


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A charity worker had a personal encounter with Sinéad O'Connor's LGBTQ+ activism when an anonymous donor he worked with turned out to be the singer.

Activist and charity worker Noah Halpin has been deeply active in the causes of LGBTQ+ rights and transgender advocacy in Ireland. A member of the Irish chapter of pioneering AIDS advocacy organization, ACTUP, Halpin has also founded transgender healthcare initiatives in Ireland and currently works for the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland.


As he recently shared on Twitter, in 2021 his work brought him in contact with a woman named Magda who reached out to the organization he worked for, wanting to donate clothes and brand new, unused makeup to transgender youth who might be able to use them.

tweet about sinead o'connor's lgbtq+ activism and donating clothes and makeup to trans youthPhoto: @Noah_Halpin / Twitter

Halpin tweeted that "we chatted for two days working out [the] logistics of me collecting" Magda's donations. But when Magda finally sent her address, Halpin realized Magda wasn't actually Magda — as he put it, "it was only then after two days I realised that I'd been chatting to Sinéad O'Connor."


O'Connor told Halpin she felt a duty to share all that she'd been given by giving back to others, especially Ireland's transgender community.

"She had told me that she is given so much," Halpin continued in a follow-up tweet, "and wants to give it to people who are seldom given much."

It wasn't the first time O'Connor had made gestures like this. In 2017, she took to her Facebook page to announce she intended to donate decades worth of clothes and makeup.



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"This is a message for Ireland’s transgender youth," the post read. "I have recently relocated from Ireland to America as has my size from ten to somewhere between twelve and thirteen. Therefore I wish to donate my 30 [years] worth of gorgeous and ordinary clothing and (unused) makeup to an Irish organisation which provides clothing and make up for those youth (over 16) born ‘legally’ male who wish to enjoy being female."

It was just the latest chapter in O'Connor's long history of generosity, which started with the roughly 10 million Irish pounds — about $14 million — she made from her blockbuster second album, 1990's aptly titled "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got."

O'Connor said in 2021 that she gave about half of the money away after promising a priest she'd do so as a child.

Sinéad O'Connor's LGBTQ+ activism has a long history as well, stretching back to times when supporting queer people was deeply frowned upon.

Unlike so many other celebrities, O'Connor's taking up of LGBTQ+ and trans rights causes wasn't a recent development — she began her advocacy way back at the very beginning of her career, which launched with her first album "The Lion and the Cobra" in 1987.


Especially amidst the AIDS epidemic at the time, vocally supporting queer people was deeply frowned upon, and LGBTQ+ were openly mocked and condemned in media by politicians and celebrities alike. Those who did dare to vocally support the community at the time, notably Madonna and Elizabeth Taylor, were often vilified for doing so.

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O'Connor was not yet widely known in the States at that point of her career, but in her native Ireland she was fiercely outspoken in her support of queer people and the fight against AIDS, headlining a 1988 Gay Pride event just weeks after conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed one of her signature pieces of legislation, the anti-LGBTQ+ Section 28.

tweet about sinead o'connor's lgbtq+ activismPhoto: @Matthew_Hodson / Twitter


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The bill targeted queer school employees and, much like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill has done today, helped reignite anti-gay sentiment in the UK at the time.

But O'Connor was unfazed, and continued her advocacy for LGBTQ+ people right until the end. In the wake of her passing, it's left Ireland's queer community deeply grateful for her.

tweet about sinead o'connor's lgbtq+ activismPhoto: @randomirish / Twitter


As Irish writer Cahir O'Doherty put it on Twitter, "every gay kid in Ireland in the late 80’s instantly knew what she represented — what she embodied — was revolution. Your older brothers couldn’t see it but we could: she was the future moving through the present. She only had to open her mouth and mountains fell."

It's a fitting legacy for a woman who never let anything stand in the way of what she believed in.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.