The government is planning to introduce free gender reassignment treatment for transgender people “without delay”, fulfilling an electoral pledge.

Reacting to an article in the Times of Malta newspaper about a call by the national equality commission for a plan enabling free access to such services, the Ministry for Equality said this issue will be addressed by the implementation of electoral manifesto proposals.

Lauren Salerno, 53, filed a complaint last year against the Health Department alleging discrimination on the grounds of her gender identity, among others.

The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality concluded that Ms Salerno had been indirectly discriminated against on the basis of gender.

Commissioner Renee Laiviera recommended the Health Department implement a plan to enable free access to gender reassignment services.

[Commissioner Renee Laiviera] also called on the government to put in motion a legislative process to address the legal situation of transgender people over free healthcare- "

“As can be found in the manifesto itself, this government pledged to offer better public health care facilities to transgender people, making the health system more trans-inclusive.

“The manifesto specifically mentions offering hormone therapy, together with the introduction of other services,” the ministry said.

An equality ministry spokeswoman said the government had started discussions about the introduction of these health services prior to the recommendation by the NCPE.

“While the ministry sympathises with Ms Salerno’s difficulties, it is this government’s intention to implement this electoral pledge without delay.”

Asked whether the government had a date by which the services would start being provided, the spokeswoman said that as an electoral pledge, this proposal was “considered as one of the government’s top priorities in this sector and will be implemented in due course”.

The discussion of gender reassignment began during the last legislature, initially within the LGBTIQ Consultative Council and subsequently between the Ministry for Civil Liberties and the Ministry for Health.

The discussion has resumed with the start of this legislature and is ongoing, she added.

In a recent interview with the Times of Malta, Ms Salerno noted that the delay in her treatment meant that those things that remind her of her male body were creeping back in.

She said she had spent all her life fighting for dignity and was now feeling exhausted.

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