What is the reality of Transgender people in Malta?
Malta is a very safe country where Transgender people can rely on one of the most progressive gender legislations in the world. In April 2015 the ‘Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act’ (GIGESC) was approved unanimously by Parliament, resulting in becoming the first legislation to recognize the rights of the transgender community in Malta.
Moreover, this law made it easier to officially change one’s gender, as a transgender individual will no longer have to go through gender reassignment surgery to change gender. Nowadays a request has to be submitted to the Director of Public Registry through a notarial deed stating that one’s gender identity does not correspond to the assigned sex at birth.
Furthermore this month the much awaited gender clinic, which will be offering multi-disciplinary services to transgender individuals was opened.
You were Malta’s first Transgender Model to walk during Malta Fashion Week. What was your experience?
It was an incredible rush of different feelings as it was a childhood dream that came true. Although Malta has the most progressive gender laws, growing up for me was very different, as at that point the transgender community in Malta was invisible.
Though I have modelled before, it was a landmark moment being asked to walk for three local designers during MFW. Moreover, discovering that I was the first transgender model was a very humbling and honouring experience. This fact made me more aware of the fact that the runaway has been used by transgender people globally as a ‘’political’’ platform and that this was my turn to encourage the younger transgender individuals to follow their dreams.
What do you want to see improve for the Transgender community in Malta?
I still feel that there is a gap between the noble spirit of the laws and general knowledge about transgender people. Following the overwhelming support that I received after fashion week, I decided to launch a social media page, Karly May, to help give more visibility to the lives of transgender people.
I still remember the sense of not belonging and confusion that accompanied me through my transition years. Getting to this point was not an easy journey, since I personally experienced my fair share of bullying and sexual harassment throughout my life. It is for this reason that I decided to use the little spotlight and privilege that I have to help inspire and empower others like me who were made to feel unworthy in their past, regardless of their appearance, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Why do you feel that activism and more awareness are needed in a country with such progressive laws?
I feel that we should never stop raising awareness, moreover following what is happening nowadays in the USA where transgender rights are under constant threat and the rise of far rights movements across Europe. The moment we forget our struggle is the moment we start losing all that we have achieved.
I am aware that my platform will not be changing the world but my page is a testimony of my life experiences. My page is an invitation to everyone who wants, and is able to hear and bear witness. Whilst I know that transitioning is not a singular experience, I hope that my experiences will help others who are going through this, or any tough journey.
You can follow Karly May on Facebook & Instagram @karlymay_km
Photo Credits: Karly May, Kurt Paris, Lollipop