31 July 2022 | Gattaldo
Mina Jack Tolu
I have known Mina Jack (They/He) for some time through social media. Friendships such as this are why I haven't yet given up Twitter. Mina Jack is an oasis of calm and reasoned thought in a sea of conflict and negativity. He provides a safe space in a medium which I find particularly stressful and antagonistic.
Mina Jack says research comes as second nature to most trans people who travel. This includes looking up the country's legal stance towards trans individuals, whether it recognises their chosen gender. Also, if a country's laws criminalise homosexuality, it's hardly going to be welcoming them with open arms.
There are practical considerations for trans persons who travel with hormone replacement therapy. Mina Jack recommends always keeping the medication in its original packaging and packing the corresponding prescription with it.
However, one needs to be aware that the simple act of carrying such medication might raise questions in some countries which may be less open minded, says Mina Jack.
He recommends carrying more medication than is needed for the length of stay, just in case something were to happen making the stay longer. In the case of a small island such as Malta, even more so, because it might not be that simple to get hold of the identical medication in time.
Should a novice traveller opt for a safe destination, a country with progressive pro-LGBTQI laws such as Malta? Is a country's culture always as open as its laws?
Mina Jack agreed it is difficult to establish a people's open-mindedness for certain but a country's laws are a good indication of the quality of experience one can expect.
A positive legal structure creates a safety net should one encounter discrimination.
Mina Jack is of the opinion that transphobia isn't the only thing to consider. Travellers within Europe with a EU passport hold a lot more power and privilege regardless of whether they're trans or not. A black trans woman from, say, outside Europe would tell you from experience that she's bound to get more hassle at European airports. As unfair as that is, all these factors have to be weighed when travelling.
Asked whether there are any trans-specific groups in Malta which one can contact before or during the stay, Mina Jack said there weren't. However, LGBTQI associations such as Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) are both well informed and inclusive. They can help with any information as regards the legal and the cultural issues affecting transgender visitors. He mentioned that MTA (Malta Tourism Authority) has also been doing a lot of work with LGBTQI and would also be in a position to answer questions regarding possible travel issues, such as documents that don't match.
MTA have been collaborating closely with LGBTQI groups as preparations for the 2023 Euro Pride are in full swing. I was made aware of this by my good friend Uwern Yong, Editor of OutThere magazine, who told me he'd been invited by the MTA to give talks on LGBTQI inclusivity aimed at professionals in the travel sector.
Icon trans model Karly May on Lollipop event flyer
Mina Jack recommends using facebook to look for local LGBTQI events. I've linked to the main event organisers on our LGBTQI page. I've noticed a substantial presence of trans people at Lollipop and Statio2Station events. Mina Jack confirms the local events have become more inclusive.
A trans woman friend of mine tells me she believes self confidence helped her to be accepted. She's adopted the mantra - "I am who I am and I have a right to be here" which helps her no end. Mina Jack believes it's not always so simple. Self-confidence depends on various factors - the stage you're at in terms of self belief and your transition. There's the worry at the back of your mind that not passing might cause you problems.
The fact that the once inward looking Malta is now more culturally diverse, helps visitors fit in. The Maltese have had the opportunity through tourism and the influx of expats to get used to 'outsiders'.
Mina Jack mentioned a bad experience in Slovakia which had been particularly testing. He felt he stood out both as a tourist and a gender non-conforming person, and had some nasty experiences. Jack was shouted at in the street and in one instance pushed out of a bathroom.
In Malta there's an increase in the visibility of diversity, including that of gender non-conforming people & this has resulted in increased acceptance.
This is not to say that instances of bigots passing snarky comments can't happen but, on the whole, people's attitudes towards difference have changed drastically in the last 10 years. This is partly thanks to activists like Mina Jack and others who have been unfaltering in educating and making change happen ★
Picture - Gender Spectrum Collection
Malta becomes the first European state to add gender identity to its Constitution as a protected category.
the Gender Identity, Gender Expression And Sex Characteristics Act:
• makes it possible for transgender and intersex individuals to change their official documents by filing an affidavit with a notary, eliminating any requirement for medical gender reassignment procedures. (In 2016, the Act was amended to allow minors who are sixteen and over to have their gender changed without needing to file an application in court or obtain parental approval)
• outlaws sterilisation and invasive surgery on intersex people.
• prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex characteristics
Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Act - Malta beco the first country in the EU to prohibit the use of conversion therapy.
Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM)
32 Parish St., Mosta MST 2021, Malta
T: +356 2143 0009 | M: +356 9925 5559
Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC)
19 Triq San Mark, Valletta VLT 1362, Malta
M: +356 9927 2999 (also WhatsApp)
Malta Tourism Authority (MTA)
Building SCM 01, Suites 301-306, SmartCity, Ricasoli, Kalkara SCM 1001, Malta
T: +356 2291 5000
Trans activist from Malta with over 10 years of experience in developing campaigns and communications on LGBTQI rights.
International Secretary for ADPD, the Maltese Green Party, collaborating with other green parties in Europe.
Committee Member for the European Green Party supporting the trans inclusive campaign helping put forward proposals on trans issues.
Script consultant on trans and non-binary inclusive storylines for European TV/film productions.
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