Cultural Awareness of Intersex in Malta: Invisibility, Stigma and Epistemic Injustice

Fae Garland, Mitchell Travis, Claudia Bartolo Tabone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2015, Malta introduced ground-breaking legal reform designed to protect the bodily integrity of intersex infants in Malta. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals, lawyers, policymakers and advocates, this article considers the extent to which this reform has improved the cultural visibility and recognition of intersex people in Malta. Engaging with lit-erature on epistemic injustice this article provides new evidence for a cultural silence around in-tersex bodies that operates not only at a level of public knowledge but also at the individual and institutional levels. Our findings relate to three categories of visibility: political, cultural and medical. While the political visibility of intersex was an important factor in the introduction and shape of law reform in Malta, our respondents felt that the legislation had had very little effect on public understandings and familiarity with intersex issues. Moreover, respondents felt that many intersex people would be unlikely to know that they were intersex due to the limited conceptual and critical resources available to them: issues such as stigma and shame further encourage the epistemic silencing of intersex issues. The lack of cultural and medical visibility has significantly limited both the intended and hoped for effect of the legislation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number150
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2024


  • intersex
  • variations of sex characteristics
  • DSD
  • epistemic injustice
  • Malta
  • law
  • cultural visibility


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