Important issues for transgender, intersex and gender-variant persons in Poland
Gender recognition in Poland
It is important to note that even though the Polish legal system does not require a person to undergo sterilization procedures nor genital surgery (this is due to the fact that sterilization is illegal in Poland and may not be performed unless medically necessary) in order to have their gender legally recognized (either as male or female), there is no actual law on gender recognition. The process itself requires a civil court case which leads to several complications, especially with the fact that the parents of an adult person are involved in the process and may sometimes delay the court decision on changing the gender marker.
This has been recognized as a problem by various political and equality bodies, including the Human Rights Defender and the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment.
On May 9th 2012, The Gender Accordance Act proposal has been submitted to the Polish Parliament and has passed the evaluation of the Parliament's Legal Office. The Office has proposed some changes in the text. These changes have been revised and amended to the original proposal and thus the proposal could being its long way through Parliamentary procedures.
On December 3rd, the first reading of the GAA proposal took place in the Parliament. In general, the reading went smoothly, with most of the parliamentary questions concerning the actual medical definition of transsexuality and whether there are alternative “treatment methods”.
On December 6th, by a vote of 198 MPs voting for dropping the proposal completely, 224 voting to commit to further work on it and 16 abstentions, the Polish Sejm green-lighted further work on the GAA proposal. Which in Trans-Fuzja's eyes, makes 2014 the most important and most anticipated year in transgender activism history in Poland.
For more information concerning the subject please refer to Wiktor Dynarski's articles: Poland’s Route To a Transgender (R)evolution published at http://visegradrevue.eu/?p=750
and Trans rights: Poland's last iron curtain at http://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/wiktor-dynarski/trans-rights-polands-last-iron-curtain
We also welcome you to read our latest publication - Gender Recognition in Poland. A Report on Court and Administrative Procedures
Health and access to healthcare
The highly gendered healthcare system in Poland is known for it's non-trans-inclusive services. Transgender women and men who went through legal gender recognition face problems registering to a doctor who specializes in themes seen as either male or female problems. There have been reports of trans women not being able to register for a visit to an andrologist, as well as trans men having the same issues with gynaecologists1. Trans people who were, however, able to visit their chosen doctor often face medical professionals who are not only uneducated on trans issues, but also prejudiced and therefore not being able to provide trans people with needed health assistance.
A typical issue that trans people face in the healthcare system is the lack of state funding for gender reassignment procedures. This not only means not being able to afford surgeries but also problems with being able to pay for hormone therapy (extremely pricy for trans women), which every trans person needs to undergo before being legally recognized. This is also linked with problems faced in pharmacies, trans people (especially trans women) who were not yet recognized legally in their preferred gender have reported a few cases of pharmacists denying a person state-approved reimbursement, justifying their actions by the fact that a male cannot buy female hormones at a reduced price.
Discrimination on grounds of gender identity, gender expression and intersex status
Transgender, intersex and gender-variant persons, particularly trans women, often face discrimination. Cases reported to Trans-Fuzja Foundation more often consider trans women as they are believed to be more visible in the Polish society due to different conceptualization of masculinity and femininity. However there have been also cases reported by trans men, most of them not being legally recognized as male, who have been either discriminated on the basis of believed sexual orientation (i.e. a heterosexual trans man was seen as a lesbian and therefore discriminated agains) or sexually harassed in the work place.
Major issues are being faced by transgender people everyday within the field of employment. In fact, a number of transgender persons faces unemployment which is caused by numerous discriminatory actions often justified by the lack of a trans-inclusive law and/or discrimination faced by trans people in education.
Lack of knowledge on intersex issues
Intersex people in Poland are an invisible community. After a failed attempt to establish an organization “working for the rights and to support hermaphrodites”, not much has been done in this field, neither on a state nor NGO level.
Currently there are a few initiatives tackling the issue, they are, however, medicalized and often use a pathologizing approach to intersex conditions, maintaining the impression that these issues do not go beyond medicalization and that they are also a human rights agenda.
So far the only initiatve to tackle the problem of forced surgeries in intersex infants is the Gender Accordance Act draft proposal, which explicitly prohibits such interventions, unless a life is at stake.