Malta’s EU Equality Commissioner designate Helena Dalli earned a round from MEPs this afternoon as she called out a German politician for disrespect towards trans people.
During her grilling by the European Parliament, Dalli was asked by Christine Anderson, from the AfD party, about her stance on transgender people legally changing their gender to be in line with their gender identity.
“If people can change their gender at any time, there’s a danger that all our efforts to make sure women are equal are countered,” Anderson argued. “If a man can identify overnight as a woman, then he’ll be able to compete against women in competitive sports with negative results for women. How will you make sure women are not disadvantaged by the possibility of people changing their gender?”
Dalli, who spearheaded legislation for trans people during her tenure as Malta’s Equality Minister, could hardly hide her frustration with the question.
“Gender reassignment and gender identity are certainly not a walk in the park,” she said. “It’s not something that you’d do to be on a board or to compete in sports but something you are born with, something which makes your life and your family’s life very sad and very hard, and I’m sure there won’t be the cases which you mentioned.”
“Please let’s have some respect to people who need us to help them, who need us to understand their situations, to put on their shoes and walk a few paces in their shoes to understand their realities,” Dalli continued. “This is why we’re here, this is what we’re all about, to help people who are in situations who will live a life of misery if we don’t do anything.”
Dalli said she personally met transgender people in Malta who passed through severe psychological trauma because the state would not recognize their gender identity, including a young girl who ended up committing suicide.
“She wouldn’t leave the house because she was ashamed that her ID card, passport and school results had the name of a boy on them when she identified as a woman, and when you looked at her, you saw a girl. When you see these situations, how can you not legislate so the lives of these people and their families improve?”
After the grilling process, MEPs will discuss and vote in secret on the nominations of Dalli and the other Commissioner-delegates, who will require a two-third majority to be approved.