Malta mourns iconic transgender performer

Katya helped to shape Catholic Malta into Europe's "most LGBT+ friendly country".

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Malta
Malta mourns iconic transgender performer - NewsMavens
Katya, Facebook

Why this story matters:

On the January 30, fans said farewell to Malta's LGBT+ icon, trans model and performer Katya (also  spelled as Katia and known as Kaka). She was seen off in a church funeral. Designers called her a muse, and the country's LGBT+ community referred to her as a trailblazer. She was a popular cabaret performer in the 1970s, when the concept of LGBT+ rights was only beginning to emerge.

In addition to differences in spelling her name, different newspapers cited her age differently as well. The Malta Independent posted a funeral note, stating that she was 61, and her full name was Katya Bertha Saunders.

Malta is ranked as by far the most LGBT-friendly country in Europe, ahead of Belgium, Norway, the UK and Finland. Katya is celebrated as a confident person who lived her life the way she wanted in times when, unlike today, LGBT+ identities were neither normalized nor accepted.

Some photos of Katya have been published here.

Details from the story:

  • Katya was a fashion muse and cabaret performer in the 1970s, who appeared in Vogue magazine and modeled for Karl Lagerfeld. In Malta, she is said to have helped young and desperate gay men.
  • Allied Rainbow Communities, an LGBT+ NGO, is calling for people who knew her to send photos and stories to keep her memory alive.
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