The title of this project was inspired by a story dating back to 1774 when Rosa Mifsud, a 17-year-old intersex person, petitioned for a change in sex from female to male. Two physicians were appointed by the court to perform an examination, where they later concluded that the male sex was the dominant one. The grandmaster himself took the final decision for Mifsud to only wear male clothing from then on. I wish that when I was in school my teachers taught me about people like Rosa Mifsud. The lack of role models in my childhood and teen years made me feel very alone and invisible.
This project is a response to the lack of representation of trans men, non-binary, LBQI masc-presenting people and their stories. I became interested in researching, archiving, documenting and highlighting not only contemporary queer communities but also erased lesbian and trans histories. Leaving Malta to study in London back in 2010 offered me the opportunity to become more comfortable with myself, which in return provided me with the tools to discover and learn more about my own community.
There are multiple international organisations that have been documenting our stories with a lot of care and dedication, and throughout my research I have come across brilliant archives that have taught and inspired me to come back to my own country to try to create something similar.
I wish to celebrate the stories of people that for so many years have been excluded from history. To make visible the silenced and hidden lives of people who for an exceedingly long time have been deemed sinners / sick / inferiors and freaks. My interest doesn’t lie in depicting our struggles but rather I want to focus my energy on our “sexual deviancies” and to celebrate our differences. I want our stories to be told in our own words and on our own terms and not by some cis heteronormative tv presenter, historian, anthropologist, doctor, or politician who continue to patronise, pathologies, sensationalise and speak on our behalf.
I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to meet so many brave people of all ages, from all walks of life and for them to share with me such wonderful parts of who they are, as well as dedicating their time and energy to be part of this new archive. What is even more special is to have come out for the second time in my life (this time as a trans man), exactly at the same time as starting this project. This was not planned, and it feels very special to be going through this journey whilst working on the Rosa Kwir project. Lastly, and most importantly thank you to all the beautiful participants, who I am proud to call friends; without you, our stories would not be visible, and our history will continue to be erased. Here’s to many more years of Rosa Kwir and healthier masculinity.