Angela Coleiro has made history as the first trans woman to contest a Maltese general election, but the Nationalist Party candidate wants people to look beyond her gender.
“I would rather people judge me on my skills and capabilities rather than my gender, but for the sake of Maltese history it’s a step in the right direction for trans people to play their part in politics,” Coleiro said in an interview on Lovin Malta.
“I’m the first trans woman candidate but I’d rather people call me Angela; hopefully one day we’ll get rid of these labels.”
So who is Angela Coleiro?
Born in 1967, Coleiro has been working in broadcasting for decades, starting at the national broadcaster (back then Xandir Malta) in 1985, before presenting shows on several media outlets, including several years at the Labour Party’s media station ONE. She currently hosts a music show on NET FM, the PN’s radio station.
She says her career has helped her understand people’s concerns, describing herself as a “people’s person”.
“I don’t want people to vote for me just because I’m a trans woman,” she said.
Coleiro was in the news earlier this year when a swathe of people, believed to be PL supporters, targeted her online over her trans identity because she had criticised the government’s COVID-19 policies.
Several people, including pop star Ira Losco, stood up for Coleiro and the police’s Hate Crime Unit launched an investigation.
This month, parliamentary secretary for equality Rosianne Cutajar urged her party’s supporters to stop attacking Coleiro through sexist and homophobic comments.
“We’re not smiling at what you do. This kind of talk is of no benefit to the Labour Party, least of all a government that did its best for Malta to be at the top of the league of civil liberties,” she said.
Coleiro said these online attacks are an example of how some PL supporters “tokenise” LGBT+ people, agreeing with them so long as they praise the government but viciously attacking them when they criticise it.
“You either agree with your party and its policies [on civil liberties] or not,” she said.
Coleiro recently agreed to contest the upcoming general election on behalf of the PN, a decision she said “had a lot to do” with the party’s new leader Bernard Grech.
“Before he became leader, Bernard Grech was interviewed on my show and we spoke for a while in the studio afterwards,” she recounted. “I was immediately struck by how much he listens, how much he remembers, how approachable he is, and how much he knows what he’s doing.”
She said surveys have already shown that Grech has managed to attract previous PN voters and that she’s convinced it will soon be able to attract more floating voters and traditionally PL voters in the coming months.
“Many Labour supporters are disillusioned and disappointed by the things they saw in the Labour Party and government,” she said.
What do you make of Angela Coleiro?