Courtesy of Anna Grodzka
Anna Grodzka, candidate for Palikot's Movement (RP) in Kraków, has a chance of becoming Poland's first openly transgender MP following the parliamentary elections that were held yesterday.
According to her, she would also be the world's only transsexual MP.
"Today, Poland is changing. I am the proof along with Robert Biedron, a homosexual and the head of an anti-homophobia campaign who ran for office in Gdynia," Ms Grodzka told the AFP.
Ms Grodzka, who is 57 years old, was top of RP's party list in the southern city of Kraków and, with votes nearly all counted, it seems she has a chance of being elected to the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament.
Founder and president of the NGO Trans-Fuzja, the only organization focused on transgender issues in Poland, Ms Grodka explained on her blog that after working for years to fight discrimination against sexual minorities and transgender people, she wanted this battle to be fought more broadly. “Palikot's Movement gives me this opportunity. I will use it,” she wrote.
Disappointment with SLD
Ms Grodka says she has always been politically active with the left, and for many years worked with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), without seeking office. She says SLD as an alliance has “rotted, as did Polish democracy. SLD politicians for several years now only seek their interests and the interests of mainstream voters, forgetting that democracy is not dictatorship of the majority.”
SLD was widely seen as one of the biggest losers in Sunday's parliamentary election, and its leader, Grzegorz Napieralski, is stepping down as a result.
Ms Grodzka ran on RP's platform of equalizing rights of LGBT people, separation of church and state and stopping the funding of religious organizations with public funds, among other elements. In an interview with portal InnaStrona.pl, she explained that Palikot's Movement represents people and issues that have so far been absent from the political scene.
A new era for the left?
Although there probably was an element of protest against the incumbent Civic Platform in the surprisingly high numbers garnered by RP in Sunday's election, Palikot's Movement does bring something genuinely new to the Polish political scene, said Michał Baranowski, senior program officer at the German Marshall Fund in Warsaw.
“It's a very fresh political movement that has been tapping into something new. RP has been dismissed by many as purely populist but I think they were able to convince some of the voters who think changes and modernization are not happening fast enough,” said Mr Baranowski.
It remains to be seen how RP will behave during this fist term, if they are able to be a constructive opposition. But their good showing in this election might mean a new era for the left in Poland.
“The left in Poland is incredibly weak, unnaturally so. The political scene is somewhat unbalanced, with the two biggest parties being roughly, in different ways, on the right. Over the next four years I expect the political scene to further mature and get more balanced between the right and the left,” said Mr Baranowski.
The fact that Poles might just have elected the world's only transgender MP could be a sign of that change. According to a recent report by Trans-Fuzja for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Polish society has very little knowledge about transgender people and often associate them with deviant lifestyles.
Transgender persons include a variety of people whose identities vary from culturally conventional gender roles, among which transsexual persons, cross-dressers, transvestites and others. Transgender does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation.
Anna Grodzka, born a man, completed her sex change in 2010. At the beginning of October, Ms Grodzka initiated a civil lawsuit against Tomasz Terlikowski, a publicist who described her on his video blog in insulting terms.
In response to Ms Grodzka's decision to take the case to court, Mr Terlikowski stated on his blog that “a genetic, hormone-filled and sterilized man” would, in his opinion, never be a woman.
The Polish anti-discrimination law of 2010 does not include gender identity nor gender expression as possible grounds for discrimination.
From Warsaw Business Journal by Alice Trudelle
Building a new center-left
Kwaśniewski's move riles SLD
Palikot's popularity won't budge despite Mr Kwaśniewski's support
Palikot and Kwaśniewski join forces
Is Poland's ruling party finished?
BY Remi Adekoya
Migration and remittances in the euro zone periphery
BY Stratfor Global Intelligence