National health service will offer full medical care for transgender patients

Malta will be one of just six countries to provide holistic transgender services, as government launches document on transgender healthcare for public consultation

A consultation document on transgender healthcare is expected to make Malta one of just six countries to make health services trans-inclusive and offer trans people full medical and psycho-social care.

Health minister Chris Fearne said the government will provide training to Malta’s healthcare professionals in undertaking procedures which trans people might need but which are not currently being offered through the public health service.

“We will be offering specific health services, but we don’t see trans people as having a medical condition. They have certain circumstances which are particular to them, and they could require access to special services which are not available in our country at the moment,” Fearne said. “This includes hormone therapy for young and old people, and a holistic gender identity service.”

Transgender people are people with a sexual identity that differs from the gender they are born with.

The public consultation process lasts until till 6 June, to be followed with a final document based on the outcome of the discussions.

“This is a big step which will affect a small part of our society in an important way. The process is at its start – we have the document, but we then have to implement it,” Fearne said.

Public health consultant Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat said the policy would make health services trans-inclusive and non-discriminatory toward trans people, and develop services helping such persons achieve a gender they were happy with through gender-affirming surgery.

“Care for this section of people will be given through a multi-disciplinary team equipped to provide the whole gamut of necessary services, including surgical, psychological and social,” she said.

The policy will also explore the possibility of offering certain very specialised services in partnership with other countries. “There is no one-size-fits-all service – they have to be adapted for the particular individual,” Azzopardi Muscat said.

Research has shown transgender people have a greater chance of suffering from lack of well-being and depression. “Trans people are often hesitant to turn to the health service, because they fear not being understood or having a bad experience. This is wrong. We are working with other countries on development goals, and we cannot leave behind this sector of society.”

Azzopardi Muscat said the government also plans to give special attention to children and young people who were increasingly looking into such services.