Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Transsexual MP loses speaker bid

Anna Grodzka sought to become a deputy speaker in the Polish parliament (AP)

Poland's first transsexual MP has lost out in a bid to become a deputy speaker in parliament after other parliamentarians voted to keep the incumbent in place.

Anna Grodzka, who attracted huge attention when she was elected in 2011, garnered even more headlines in recent days when she became a potential candidate for the post.

Even though the job appears out of reach for now, the 58-year-old has already had a huge impact on the political scene, becoming perhaps the most prominent symbol of liberal change in a traditionally conservative and largely Roman Catholic country.

Ms Grodzka became a candidate for a deputy speaker post after the current holder of the post for her party, Wanda Nowicka, drew the ire of its founder and leader, Janusz Palikot, for accepting a bonus of 40,000 zlotys (£9,600) for her work as a leader in the legislature last year.

The bonuses have been controversial because they come as Poland's economy faces a slowdown and the government raises taxes and forces other austerity measures on the public.

Politicians, however, voted overwhelmingly against a proposition to dismiss Ms Nowicka. Ms Nowicka then addressed the assembly, saying she was encouraged by their support and that she would not resign. A prominent activist who has worked for years for women's causes, Ms Nowicka said there was no merit to the case against her and that she still had work to do for women and her constituents.

Ms Grodzka had sex change surgery in 2010 in Thailand after a lifetime of feeling she was born the wrong sex.

Serious news magazines have featured her on their front covers, with analytical pieces examining the role of gays and other sexual minorities in society.

Ms Grodzka said before the vote that she is still sometimes surprised that she garnered 20,000 votes in her conservative home city, Krakow, to win a seat in Parliament for the Palikot Movement. People have attacked her office, throwing things at the windows or ripping her rainbow flags. But all in all, she feels a growing acceptance from society.

She is aware she is a symbol of historic change in Poland, she said, and is trying to meet that challenge by doing the best work possible as a parliamentarian. Ms Grodzka said: "I am above all trying to be a normal politician, like any other person, but maybe even better. I am really trying so that people who observe me will know that transgender people are no worse in any way than any others."

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