Since the Bill requires no external physical or even psychological signifier, the determination of “gender” is entirely subjective and psychologically dependent on the personal preference of the individual. It says that the “person shall not be required to provide proof of a surgical procedure for total or partial genital reassignment, hormonal therapies or any other psychiatric, psychological or medical treatment to make use of the right to gender identity.” Moreover, it states that “it shall be the right of every person who is a Maltese citizen to request the Director to change the recorded gender and, or first name in order to reflect that person’s self-determined gender identity.” Once one substitutes a purely subjective for an objective criterion in determining the way a person will be known as male or female the way is wide open to abuse of the power that one can actually exercise when switching from one gender to another.
If the Bill intends to serve both compassion and justice, it should set unequivocal parameters that distinguish clearly between genuine requests for gender identity change from requests of a more ambivalent nature. Moreover, the Bill not only allows change of one’s gender by a mere declaration to a public notary but does not exclude the possibility of an eventual reversal of this decision.
For this to be meaningful, however, the child’s right to seek and receive information, regardless of frontiers, needs to be respected (CRC, Article 13). This should include mandatory counselling to provide the opportunity to better understand one’s sexual orientation and identity, which will promote the child’s social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health (CRC, Article 17). This information needs to respect “the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, together with “the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of [this right] in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child” (CRC, Article 14).
Indeed, any counseling received should also take into consideration the provisions of Article 40 of the Constitution of Malta which protects the minor’s right for religious instruction as determined and consented to by the parents. This would be in adherence to the basic principles of fundamental human rights which are universal, inalienable and consequently indivisible.
Rev Prof Emmanuel Agius
Dr Nadia Delicata
Rev Prof George Grima
Rev Prof Paul Galea
Rev Dr Ray Zammit
Rev Dr Richard-Nazzareno Farrugia
Rev Anton Borg