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Transgender girl, 8, tells her story, urges others to be brave

Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Updated June 3 with Children's Commissioner statement

A new book by eight-year old transgender girl Willa Naylor, about her own experience transitioning and living with her true gender identity, was presented to ministers Helena Dalli and Evarist Bartolo this morning.

“It is a trans child’s story; it is my story,” Willa said about her book, Truly Willa.

“I wrote this book to tell my story, properly, in my own words – the bad and the good times – to help people understand what it’s like to be a trans child.

“It is not just for children, it is also for parents, teachers and anyone who might need it.”

I wrote this book to tell my story, properly, in my own words – the bad and the good times

Willa, born and raised in Malta, who is also active in social campaigning with the organisation Gender Liberation, was one of the first beneficiaries of the pioneering gender identity law last year.

Transgender people in Malta now do not need to provide proof of any medical procedures or psychological treatment in order to change gender legally. A supporting policy in education means children like Willa are guaranteed respect for their gender identity in the school system.

Civil liberties minister Helena Dalli said: “I hope this book will help other children in Willa’s situation feel empowered. For adults, who can sometimes be prejudiced in their views about how life should be, this book shows that we do not choose how we’re born and opens our eyes to other realities.

“As adults we should always be helping children to achieve their full potential and that can only be done by pulling down barriers.”

Education minister Evarist Bartolo said Truly Willa highlighted the values of inclusion, equality and diversity and praised Willa’s initiative in writing the book at such a young age.

“The voice of students themselves is often ignored,” Mr Bartolo said. “We need to do more to encourage children to speak up and express themselves on issues that are important to them.”

Truly Willa is available to purchase from online retailers Amazon and Book Depository. 

 

'Children are no symbol' - Commissioner for Children

In a statement, Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli said that although Willa's efforts and the support she received was commendable, it would be harmful if she became a symbol "of the situation of transgender children." 

The Commissioner argued that excessive attention could lead to the child being idolised or demonised by members of the public, based on their beliefs. 

"This would be harmful to the child and to his or her family, who despite the positive outcome of the case would still be psychologically vulnerable. It might also hinder the possibility of the child rediscovering later on in life his or her original gender identity as his or her own, something that is known to happen in some cases," the Commissioner said. 

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