Willa Naylor: Office of Commissioner for Children expresses concerns

The Commissioner for Children has expressed her concern regarding the eight-year-old transgender girl Willa Naylor case and appealed for prudence and sensitivity in the communications and reactions of personal stories such as Willa’s.

In a statement, Commissioner Pauline Miceli explained the story of Willa Naylor as a difficult yet successful voyage to a free expression and social acceptance of her gender. It was praiseworthy that throughout this process Willa enjoyed the full support of her parents as well as the support of the legal structure that helped to reconcile her official gender with her identity. The fact that Willa has chosen to share her story with others in a published book encourages the rights of transgender children and is therefore admirable. Recognition was also given that a personal story of a transgender boy or a girl raises a public conscience over such an important and current matter.

However, the Commissioner’s Office expressed reservations that such material should be personalised so as to make a particular child a transgender symbol. Such public exposition could lead a child to be idolised or demonised by different sectors of public opinion because the actual content is still regarded as being controversial. This could lead the child and the family to become vulnerable despite the positive element of the content. There is also the possibility that future complications may arise because in later life some children may once more return to their gender at birth and it is known that such cases have happened.

In view of this the Office of the Commissioner for Children appealed to the media, social activists and the general public to show prudence and sensitivity in the interests of the child where communications and reactions to such developments are concerned.

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