The first openly transgender member of the Polish parliament may soon occupy one of the governing body's top positions.
Anna Grodzka, 58, was elected to parliament in the 2011 general election and belongs to the liberal-leaning Palikot's Movement, the third-largest political party in Poland. After her victory, Grodzka told the Associated Press that she was elected by voters who "wanted a modern Poland, a Poland open to variety, a Poland where all people would feel good regardless of their differences."
Now, Polskie Radio reports that Grodzka may soon become one of Poland's deputy parliament speakers in the 460-member lower house, or Sejm. Grodzka was recommended for the recently vacated post by her party leader, Janusz Palikot.
Grodzka, who underwent her sex-change operation in 2010, confirmed to Polish television news channel TVN 24 that she would serve as deputy speaker, if her party supports her. Palikot told TVN 24 that the final decision will be announced Thursday.
"It’s not an official candidacy right now. We don’t have one yet," he said on Jan. 28, according to the Warsaw Business Journal. "But from an ideological standpoint, it would be a good choice."
The party's move has not been without controversy, and not all Grodzka's fellow MPs have taken kindly to her presence in the parliament.
Krystyna Pawlowicz, a lawmaker from the more conservative Law and Justice Party, refuses even to acknowledge her colleague's gender identity.
“It’s not like a man can stuff himself full of hormones and turn into a woman. The genetic code is the decisive factor,” Pawlowicz said to the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 30. “When I see a man next to me, how can I address him ‘Mrs.’?”
In the past, Pawlowicz has made a name for herself by publicly lambasting same-sex civil union legislation and calling gay couples "unstable."
The Warsaw Business Journal notes that if Grodzka is nominated, she would almost certainly face opposition. Poland is a historically Roman Catholic country, and Grodzka's own home district includes the devout city of Krakow, a former home of Pope John Paul II.