Friday, August 7 marked the day the Polish Senate passed the gender recognition legislation, changing its na,e to “Gener Marker Change Act”. It is a great victory for trans people in Poland who were waiting too long for new regulations that will finally end the need to sue their parents in court as part of the legal gender recognition process. The Act was, however, passed with an amendment, which clearly shows that the Senate is not ready to realize that trans people and their families deserve their autonomy, intimacy and dignity to be respected.
Wiktor Dynarski, Trans-Fuzja's President, comments on today's vote – “At last, Polish authorities said 'no' to the absurd practice of suing one's parents in court. This practice deprived trans people and their families from their dignity, but unfortunately, the passed amendment not only still requires trans people to confront their families it also introduces the presence of an expert witness during a gender recognition court session”.
The amendment was proposed during the sitting of the Human Rights, Rule of Law and Petitions Committee by senator Jan Rulewski and introduces the necessity to have an expert witness pediatric psychologist present during a court session, if the applicant is a parent to a minor. The change is baffling, since it is not clear, what power would this expert opinion have and whether it can be used to block a parent's legal recognition. In a legal understanding, this amendment seems redundant since the Act clearly states that upon legal gender recognition parental rights and obligations remain the same. The proposed change suggests that the Polish Senate undermines the competence of trans parents and their right to individual choices.
Another problematic aspect of the amendment is the introduction of expert witnesses to be present during a gender recognition court session. As a psychologist and a psychiatrist are expected to be a part of the process, it clearly shows that there is no understanding among Senators that gender identity is one of the most important personal characteristics and that trans people have the right to have their privacy respected. Having third parties present during these proceedings undermines that right. The Senate also decided to remove the maximum waiting period of three months. This means that trans people will still be forced to comply with a lack of certainty as of when their legal recognition will be processed.
Lalka Podobińska, Trans-Fuzja's Vice-President, adds – “This law does not introduce any new ideas. It rather creates new solutions to the Polish legal system. Legal gender recognition was established almost 60 years ago based on different High Court rulings. I do not understand, why the Senate pushes to have additional expert witnesses present. Trans people will already have to go through medical evaluation. There is no need to add another gatekeeping mechanism, especially that expert witness costs have to be covered by the applicant. The change also means that this process will take longer and Poland already faces a case before the European Court of Human Rights which touches upon unnecessary prolongation of court practice. This is not enough for the Senators to understand, apparently”.
The amendment legislation returns to the lower hour and will be processed during next session, scheduled for September. Trans-Fuzja Foundation is already starting its work to convince Members of Parliament that amendments made by the Senate are extremely unnecessary and that the law should be enacted in its original form.