Changes to Poland’s gender law could make things even worse for trans people

The Polish Senate has approved the country’s new gender recognition law – but there are concerns that last-minute amendments to the law may actually make the transition process harder for trans people.

The country’s upper house voted this week to pass the Gender Accordance Act, following several days of debate – but several last-minute amendments were accepted which activists fear could actually make the process for transgender people to gain recognition harder.

Previously, trans people in the country had to go through a lengthy court battle to gain legal recognition. According to the new law, they only have to fulfil three criteria: they must be a Polish citizen, be unmarried, and present two supporting medical opinions for assessment by a regional court.

However, additional amendments passed today mean that a sexologist and psychologist have to be present in court, as well as a paediatric psychologist if the trans person already has children.

Evelyne Paradis of pro-LGBT group ILGA-Europe said: “This law is about codifying, simplifying and rectifying.

“By codifying gender recognition for the first time, I hope it sends out a strong message in Poland that trans peoples’ dignity is valued by the state. By trying to simplify the process in the original draft, Poland was moving away from pathologising trans people’s bodies and that is to be encouraged.

“But there are still many improvements that need to be made, especially after today’s disappointing amendments.

“We will stand with LGBTI activists in Poland to ensure that the outstanding issues are rectified. Poland still has an opportunity to take its place among the leading European trans laws. There is still time to blaze a trail; we call on Poland’s politicians to take that chance.”

The amended Act will now head to a parliamentary committee – which could decide in September to reject the changes.