The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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FIRST: Conversation with Karly Naudi

Joanna Demarco Tuesday, 23 October 2018, 11:10 Last update: about 7 years ago

First speaks to Karly Naudi, the first Maltese transgender woman to walk the catwalk earlier this year at Malta Fashion Week. Interview and photography by Joanna Demarco

Karly: you were the first transgender model to walk down a catwalk at Malta Fashion Week. How did it feel?

It was a huge surprise! I felt honoured and humbled and, at the same time, being well aware that there were others before me who had the talent and ability to do so, but weren’t able to because of the socio-political attitude prevailing at the time. Although I had done some modelling before, I never thought my dear friend Marco Parascandalo would ask me to model for him during MFW. I was also a bit nervous because I am currently reading for a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources and exams were only a week away.

Knowing that my family and friends were cheering for me made it a very meaningful occasion. I must admit my dominant feeling was one of joy, because a childhood dream had become a reality. I was also aware that, globally, the catwalk has given transgender people an important platform and this was my chance to inspire young transgender people to continue to pursue their dreams, be strong and never give up.


Who is one person you really look up to – and why?

Laverne Cox. She is a black transgender activist, actress, film producer and model. She is an inspiration to me because she used the spotlight to project awareness on the many struggles of the LGBTIQ+ community, and did not let the fact that she is transgender be her sole defining element. On a more personal note, my idol is my mother who, through example, taught me to fight for what I believe in and to never give up. She always supported and stood by me even though she didn’t understand the changes that I was going through.


How do you feel being transgender in Malta now compares with, say, 10 years ago?

It has definitely improved and, in terms of legislation, Malta has achieved the most progressive gender laws. I still believe that society is still catching up with the legislation and that there is still a lack of awareness.


What is the best piece of advice you have received, and the best piece of advice you would give? 

To never give up and to always fight for what I believe in. Personal experience has taught me not to waste time pretending to be someone I’m not. It is exhausting and a waste of energy, especially when that energy can be channelled into doing something that brings joy. Having said that, however, always make safety a priority.


What is the next thing you would want to see improve for the LGBTIQ community here in Malta?

A predominant topic at the events organised by the various NGOs during Pride Week that I managed to get to was the fact that there is exclusion and elements of discrimination within the LGBTIQ+ community. I know it is natural to form groups, and forming part of a community doesn’t mean we are friends by default, but this becomes harmful when individuals who don’t fit a specific look or way of being are made to feel excluded. I think it’s time to start having conversations within our community about this and understand that it is our differences that we celebrate during Pride Week.


Join Karly on her new journey to help empower people by following her on her ‘Karly May’ Facebook and Instagram page.

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