The Prime Minister of Malta has announced plans to cover the costs of gender-affirming surgeries, making them free for all trans and gender-diverse people in the country.
Malta is known to be one of the more progressive countries in Europe regarding LGBTQ+ issues. It was the first country in Europe to include gender identity in its constitution and it was the first to ban the horrific practices of conversion therapy. It was even named the best European holiday destination for LGBTQ+ travelers by the Rainbow Europe List. The list ranks European countries based on categories such as equality, family, hate crime rates, legal gender recognition, and intersex bodily integrity all regarding the LGBTQ+ community.
Robert Abela, the current Prime Minister of the Labour Party in Malta, had previously lifted the ban on gay, bisexual, and otherwise queer men donating blood. This year, he has promised its citizens to improve the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the country. The reforms will also include free gender-affirming surgeries for all trans and gender-diverse people. As of now, there are only a handful of countries in the world that offer either full or partial funding for gender-affirming surgeries.
Abela initially shared the positive news at Malta’s first Pride march since the COVID-19 pandemic, which took place on September 10th. The Prime Minister then informed the queer and trans community that gender-related surgeries will soon be available through the government’s publicly funded national health service. Meaning, that the state of Malta will finance the surgical procedures. What kind of surgeries are included in this reform is yet to be announced.
Not all lawmakers were happy with Abela’s plans to provide free surgeries for trans people. Some wondered why there was not enough money to ‘cure and treat fibromyalgia’.
However, this discourse is a completely separate discussion. The insinuation that the LGBTQ+ community would not be happy if fibromyalgia treatment became free is just as absurd as thinking that people with the condition are unhappy with the Prime Minister’s proposition regarding LGBTQ+ rights. Not to forget that there are also LGBTQ+ people who have fibromyalgia.
This is an incredibly positive step towards ensuring that trans people in Malta receive equal rights within healthcare. It is important to note that although this news is great, not all trans people desire to have gender-affirming surgeries, and their identities as trans people are valid.
Numerous studies have confirmed surgeries can improve trans people’s gender dysphoria. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) also stated that having access to gender-affirming treatment, like surgeries, can improve the well-being and mental health of trans and gender-diverse people. Gender-affirming surgeries can even be ‘life-changing’, according to one of our GenderGP team members.
With the government taking over the cost of gender-affirming surgeries, trans people in Malta will be able to access the treatment they require in order to feel more gender euphoric.