Watch: Don’t view transgender people as victims – Angela Coleiro

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Presenter, actress and political candidate Angela Coleiro is, regrettably, no stranger to transphobic abuse, including just this week after delivering a speech at a political activity. But this in no way meant that she and other transgender people are to be viewed as a victim.

Coleiro was being interviewed on Saturday’s edition of Andrew Azzopardi on 103, days after her speech at a Nationalist Party activity in Żurrieq led to a regrettable, if sadly predictable, response.

Though no stranger to such incidents – she had filed a hate speech report after receiving a barrage of transphobic insults on Facebook last June in reaction to a political remark she had made – Coleiro takes them in stride.

 “I even felt a sense of satisfaction, as it meant that they were unable to attack the arguments I made in my speech,” she said. “So instead, they resorted to the lowest form of attack.”

But Coleiro, who underwent gender reassignment surgery 27 years ago, noted that she had developed a thick skin over the years, and said that others may be more badly affected by such displays of transphobia.

No token candidate

Coleiro expressed a distaste for labels, emphasising that she was simply Angela, though she recognised the importance of speaking up on transgender issues.

She is set to become the first transgender woman to contest a Maltese general election – the PN has approved her candidature – but emphasised that she was neither being treated as a token representative of the transgender community and nor did she want to be one.

“We are not puppets to be placed on a float once a year and be taken to Valletta for the pride parade,” Coleiro emphasised.

Asked to clarify whether she disapproved of pride events, she clarified that she did not, but added that she longed for the day when they were no longer needed. She similarly highlighted how both the PN and the Labour Party have a women’s section but no men’s section, and lamented that this was still deemed necessary.

Her distaste for labels is echoed in her strong disapproval of any depictions of herself and other transgender persons as victims, including in reaction to the insults they may receive.

While she acknowledged that growing up transgender presented its challenges, many others had difficult challenges to face.

In her case, she faced a challenge that was addressed, in part, with surgery, though she clarified that not every transgender person had to opt for such a step. But she emphasised that she was, in any case, born a woman.

“I already was Angela,” Coleiro maintained. “My choice was either to correct my body to reflect what I was on the inside, or to continue living a lie.”