Transgender people in Malta are among the least satisfied with their life when compared to other Europeans, according to a survey carried out by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The average rating for life satisfaction on a scale of one to 10 for transgender respondents was 6.9, with Belgium holding a high of 9.3 and Latvia a mere 4.6. Malta registered a 5.5 – third from bottom.

Life satisfaction is strongly correlated with openness in private and in professional life: the more open respondents are about being transgender, the more satisfied they are with life.

It was found that in Malta, while a third avoid expressing gender identity, 67 per cent avoid certain places out of fear. And while two fifths are open in the private sphere and none are open in the professional sector, only a quarter are open in healthcare settings.

All local respondents who looked for a job in the previous year felt discriminated against, compared to the EU average of 37 per cent, while half felt discriminated against or were harassed because of being perceived as transgender.

Malta also had the highest percentage, 50 per cent, of respondents who experienced hate-motivated harassment. A breakdown by country shows great variation, with the UK following Malta at 37 per cent and Italy at the bottom of the list with 10 per cent.

The EU agency said the report, called Being Trans in the European Union, shows how transgender people experience frequent discrimination and victimisation, harassment and disrespect.

The results, published today, were collected from an EU LGBT survey that sought to establish an accurate picture of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their experiences with regard to fundamental rights. The responses of 6,579 survey respondents were used in the analysis. Although the results cannot be considered representative of all transgender people in the EU, it provides an insight into the challenges they face, the agency says.

It was noted that the samples of Malta and a few other countries had fewer than 30 responses.

These findings point to the need for the EU to improve policies to fight discrimination

In other results, half of the Maltese respondents never experienced negative comments or conduct at work because of being transgender, a figure similar to the EU average of 47 per cent.

At school, while a quarter of European respondents felt discriminated against by staff, none of the Maltese reported this harassment.

Figures for Malta with reference to school atmosphere towards LGBT people was spread equally between positive, mixed and negative.

On a European level, a third of respondents avoided expressing their gender identity through the way they dress for fear of being assaulted or harassed.

Over half experienced a positive work atmosphere for LGBT people in the five years preceding the survey.

“These findings point to the need for the EU to improve policies to fight discrimination and transphobic hate crime,” the agency said.

“This also includes awareness training of trans issues for the police, employers, healthcare professionals and teachers,” it added, noting the report provided evidence that where positive measures were implemented, transgender people were more open and could live a better life.