‘Major policy overhaul needed after new transgender legislation comes into force’

A major policy overhaul will be required once new legislation combating trans­gender discrimination comes into force, according to Malta Gay Rights Movement head Gabi Calleja.

“Once this legislation passes through Parliament, we will need a wide-ranging policy review to ensure that inclusion is really promoted. This is a significant culture shift that needs to be addressed on several levels. Ultimately, the issue of gender has a bearing on all social issues,” she said.

Ms Calleja was speaking to Times of Malta during a seminar on challenges that would emerge once the legislation is approved by Parliament.

The new law is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks and is aimed at doing away with regulations that limit people’s freedoms by forcing them to act out a gender role that does not fit with their own.

An intersex or transgender person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male, or simply does not ascribe to the typical male female gender identity.

The seminar was aimed at professionals working with LGBTI families, policy­makers, legislators, members of the LGBTI community, civil society organisations and other entities interested in understanding and contributing to the relevant themes.

Illustrating what sort of policy review would be required, Ms Calleja said schools would have to do away with expecting girls to wear skirts and boys to don trousers as part of their uniform.

“This issue affects all aspects of life and will require change across the board,” she said.

Silvan Agius, a policy coordinator at the Ministry for Civil Liberties, said no real opposition to the Bill was expected.

“This Bill has been five years in the making and we have already had notable cases over the years where the government and the courts highlighted inadequacies in existing law and even instances of discrimination. So they are aware of the need for change,” he said, adding he did not expect objections similar to those raised during the Civil Unions Bill debate.

The Civil Unions law, passed last year, was the subject of controversy when the Opposition abstained.

The bone of contention at the time was whether same-sex couples should be able to adopt children, an issue the Nationalist Party insisted required further debate.

However, the contentious legislation was enacted despite the PN’s reservations and was greeted by a large gathering of people who filled St George’s Square, in Valletta to celebrate the move.

Speaking during the seminar, MGRM spokeswoman Ruth Baldacchino said men were often being excluded from employment such as child care, a profession, she argued, that was dominated by women.

Source: timesofmalta.com