Last week was very inspiring for us here in Polish Theatre Ireland. We had a great pleasure to meet Polish politician Anna Grodzka who is the first transgendered parliament member in the history of Europe. At the moment she is a member of Polish opposition party Palikot Movement (Ruch Palikota), but apart of this she is also a social activist who – as a founder of non-gov organisation Trans-Fuzja – supports the rights of transgendered, transsexual and transvestic people. She visually stands up and fights FOR basic human rights and AGAINST transphobia and shallow stereotypes constantly being created in many societies. A role model for many LGBT communities around the world, she is definitely a role model for us too.
Few facts from her life: she was born as a man (Krzysztof Bęgowski) in 1954. She studied clinical psychology in Warsaw University and she is an anti-discrimination trainer. Anna also produces films and tv shows. She considers herself as a bisexual person, although she prefers women then men. She firstly felt like a girl when at the age of 11. She was married for some time and had also a son. When he grew up and turned 18 she got divorced and decided to do the sex change operation in Bangkok. The whole process of the operation was recorded and presented by HBO as a documentary film ‘Transakcja’. Anna’s decision was fully accepted and supported by her adult son.
Last week Anna Grodzka came in to Dublin. On Friday 15th Feb there was an open meeting with her in Polish Embassy in Dublin hosted by Slawomir Norberczak. It was a meeting with Polish community mostly and after few introducing questions from Slawek – we could all ask Anna questions. Very interesting discussion. Anna’s way of speaking and her language as a politician can only inspire and give an example to many parliament members.
The main purpose of her visit though was to take part in OUTING EXLUSION conference (Saturday 16th Feb) organised by National Lesbian and Gay Federation (NLGF) to discuss the issues of poverty, unemployment, mental health, general healthcare among LGBT communities. It was the first conference like that in Dublin and although the very strict time frames for all speakers – it pointed out very important problems that are not usually that obvious to the general public. And we are also so proud that Anna Grodzka, who is the first transgendered parliament member in Europe and third in the world, is actually representing Poland. During her speech she explained the latest debates on civil partnerships in Poland and that the initial bills towards registering the gay unions were not accepted to the further discussions in the Polish parliament. She also said few inspiring words about who she was and how much she wanted to be considered as a normal citizen: “I don’t need anybody to tolerate me. I demand my rights as a tax paying citizen exactly the same as anyone else.”
Her speech was followed by Broden Giambrone, the director of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) who indicated the problems in the areas of employment and healthcare. During his speech you could see the quotes from the people who described their real problems that are facing them in everyday-life.
There were few more interesting speeches later on too and they were all very inspiring: we had a Dundalk and Leitrim perspective (about rural inequality), mental health situation, asylum seekers and refugees issues described in a very touching video Seeking Sanctuary made by BeLongTo… It was all very promising and we hope it will bring more and more interests to the general public.
We are also planning to bring issues of transgenderism to the theatre very soon as we will be showing the play Foreign Bodies by Julia Holewińska in Project Arts Centre (more details will come shortly). The play tells a story of a transgendered woman who used to be a man before the fall of communism in Poland. The character is based on a real person Ewa Hołuszko who – as Marek Hołuszko – fought for freedom together with Solidarity Movement and after the communism’s collapse she changed her sex to female. By staging this play we are hoping to bring another social debate about problems that are still hiding somewhere in the general public surface. The conference OUTING EXCLUSION was a real inspiration and we want to continue it in a theatrical spaces. You will hear from us soon!