Polish parliament has passed the country’s first ever transgender recognition legislation.
Anna Grodzka – Poland’s first openly transgender politician – introduced the Gender Accordance Act in May 2012, and it was finally passed on Thursday (23 July) by 252 votes to 158, with 11 absentations.
Although the country has legally recognised transgender citizens since the the 1960s, the requirements of what it means to be transgender in the eyes of the law have never been specified, leading to a lack of rights for the community.
Under the new law, an unmarried transgender citizen would be legally eligible to apply for a new birth certificate and new educational and employment documentation – without having to undergo surgery or hormone therapy.
However, they would still need to present two independent confirmations of “being a person of a different gender identity than the gender legally assigned” from a clinical psychologist or doctor, before they were able to apply.
“It is a huge victory for trans people in Poland,” said Wiktor Dynarski, president of the Polish advocacy group Trans-Fuzja Foundation.
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“For the past few days we have seen members of parliament advocating both against and for the law, but it was for the first time that we actually heard Polish policymakers openly protecting bodily autonomy of trans people and recognizing that trans citizens need to have their dignity assured.”
For the bill to become law early next year, it still needs to be passed by the senate and signed by the country’s president.
Ms Grodzka – Poland’s first openly transgender lawmaker – announced her plans to run for President earlier this year.
She was elected as a Member of Parliament in Poland in 2011, in what is usually a notoriously conservative country.
There are currently no openly transgender heads of state in the world, meaning that Grodzka – who is already the world’s only elected transgender MP – would make history again if successful.
Ms Grodzka previously spoke to PinkNews about the difficulties of being trans in the country, saying: “Generally it’s hard but this is why I am doing this, to help others to inspire others.
“It’s difficult but I need to carry it on…it does affect my private life, it’s quite hard to share my life with another person with so much going on, but at the end of the day this is my life and I’m happy.”
“I hope I can show other transgender people that life is worth living.”
In May, the Polish Parliament again voted against having a debate on the regulation of gay and straight civil partnerships.