Legal Gender Recognition and Bodily Integrity

Last Updated: 13/05/2020
Constitutional Provisions

Legal Gender Recognition 

 
The first legal gender recognition procedures where introduced through amendments to the Civil Code in 2004 (ACT XVIII of 2004). Irreversible gender reassignment was a requirement under this law and gender recognition did not extend to marriage.
The provisions were repealed in 2015 and replaced with the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (ACT XI of 2015 further amended by ACT XX of 2015).
The Act introduces a right to gender identity for all citizens of Malta and entitles them to:  
  • the recognition of their gender identity; 
  • the free development of their person according to their gender identity;
  • be treated according to their gender identity and, ​
  • be ide​ntified in that way in the documents providing their identity, and
  • ​bodily integrity and​ physical autonomy.​
The Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act allows for the legal gender recognition of persons based on self-determination and bodily integrity. For most persons aged 16 or over, this entails a simple declaration in front of a notary, which is then enrolled with the Public Registry as a public deed. The Director of Public Registry then authorises the changes to the birth certificate, which paves the way for changes to other identity documents such as passports, I.D. cards and Drivers Licence.
Adopted persons seeking to change legal gender on their adoption certificates are required to go through the courts. 

 
With respect to minors (less than 16 years of age), parents must apply to the Court of Voluntary Jurisdiction on behalf of their children. The court decree is then submitted to the Director of Public Registry for the changes in the birth certificate to be effected.

 
The law establishes that no-one shall 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. This applies also to children although a court may request an assessment to confirm that the minor is able to provide informed consent.

 
A person can access legal gender recognition provisions even if they are married and will be able to amend their marriage certificate to reflect their name and gender identity. No permission or authorisation from the spouse is required since this gender identity is considered to be the right of each individual.

 
The Act also allows for the recognition of the gender identity of persons who were granted international protection under the Refugees Act and for the recognition of foreign decisions related to Maltese nationals or third country nationals decided by a competent court or responsible authority. Persons in detention can also have their gender identity recognised for the period of detention through a declaration made before a notary should they not have access to regular legal gender recognition provisions.

 
Depathologisation
 
Malta depathologised trans identities through ACT No. LVI of 2016 which amended the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act. The legislation ensures that depathologisation does not inhibit access to trans specific health services.

 
X Marker

 
On the 7th of July of 2015 government adopted the LGBTIQ Action Plan 2015-2017 which included a commitment to introduce an alternative gender marker to ‘M’ or ‘F’ on the Identity Card and Passport. The ‘X’ marker​ was subsequently introduced in September 2017 and is available to all persons who are entitled to a Maltese ID Card or Passport. 
 
 
For Maltese Nationals
 

 
Choosing to have an ‘X’ marker means that you are opting not to specify your gender on these identity documents. Your legal gender will remain that listed on your birth or adoption certificate filed with the public registry.
Persons who would like their ID Card and Passport to display an ‘X’ marker instead of their corresponding ‘M’ or ‘F’ should take an oath in front of a notary who is also a Commissioner of Oaths.
 
 
The oath certificate is then to be presented to Identity Malta’s ID Cards Office and to the Passport Office. A copy would be retained with your application. Some fees may apply.
 
 
A new ID Card and Passport would then be issued with the ‘X’ marker. 

 
For Foreign Residents
 
 
If you are a foreign resident who, in your home country, have accessed a gender marker that is not ‘M’ or ‘F’, this will be represented by an ‘X’ on the Residence Card. 

 

 
Gender Neutral Toilets
 
In 2016 a government circular was issued requesting all government departments and entities to assign at least one third of toilets as gender neutral. The guidelines explained that gender neutral toilets ensure privacy and eliminate discomfort for trans and gender variant persons, who often find themselves in uncomfortable situations when trying to access gender segregated toilets. Additionally, gender neutral toilets are also advantageous for other individuals, such as parents who need to access nappy changing facilities. Indeed, the aim of these toilets is to ensure that a non-judgmental environment for all, whatever the reason for the preference of such facilities. 


Intersex Rights 
 
​Article 14 of the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act​ prohibited normalising surgeries and medical interventions on intersex children without their informed consent. Malta was the first country to introduce such provisions. The Act also provides for a revision of the protocol regulating sex assignment treatment and/or surgical interventions on the sex characteristics of a person as well as for the setting up of an interdisciplinary team to assist medical professionals in providing support and guidance to intersex individuals and their families.

Legislation