Today the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament passed the Gender Accordance Act, the country’s first gender recognition legislation in history. After a long parliamentary procedure and a constant stream of criticism and attacks coming from conservative media, the act passed today with an overwhelming result of 252 votes for, 158 against and 11 abstaining. The Act was initially submitted by Anna Grodzka, Poland’s first openly trans MP, in May 2012.
“It is a huge victory for trans people in Poland” says Wiktor Dynarski, President and Executive Director of Trans-Fuzja Foundation. “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 policy makers openly protecting bodily autonomy of trans people and recognizing that trans citizens need to have their dignity assured”.
Although Poland already had a long history of legal gender recognition, dating back to the 1960s, the process was never codified and was a subject of confusing court proceedings. These proceedings have forced trans people seeking recognition to confront their parents and children in a court of law, have an expert witness assess their diagnosis of gender dysphoria and in the end wait for a ruling between 4 months to even years. The Gender Accordance Act ensures that no one, except for the applicant, is involved in the gender recognition process.
To apply for recognition the applicant will need to fulfill three necessary prerequisites:
- Be a Polish citizen,
- Be unmarried,
- Present two independent confirmations (not older than 12 months) of ‘being a person of a different gender identity than the gender legally assigned’ prepared either by a clinical psychologist who is also a sexologist, a psychiatrist or a sexologist who is also a medical doctor.
The Act is not perfect, Trans Fuzja states in their press release; “There are still a number of issues to address – self-determination, securing parental rights of trans people, abolishing the forced divorce and the citizenship requirement, bringing back state-funded transition healthcare, and many others that we want and will work on. This Act is an important first step that took us three years to take”.
And: “We are not done yet” explains Lalka Podobińska, Trans-Fuzja’s Vice-President and Advocacy Office, “We made history with the lower chamber, but there is still the Senate and the President. And they also need to understand that it is time for trans people in Poland to have a decent piece of legislation regulating their various needs. We are optimistic though. We made the majority of policy makers understand how important legal gender recognition is”.
If the Gender Accordance Act is passed by the Senate and signed by the President, it will become law in January 2016.