Transgender MP speaks at Dublin conference
Polish MP Anna Grodzka, who made history by becoming Europe's first transgender parliamentarian, is pictured at the National Lesbian and Gay Federation conference in Dublin today. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.
A woman who made history by becoming Europe's first transgender MP addressed an Irish conference on poverty and social exclusion in the LGBT community yesterday.
Polish MP Anna Grodzka told the National Lesbian and Gay Federation conference that many people had emigrated from Poland not just because of economic difficulties but also because of their gender or problems expressing their sexuality in their home country.
"We're dealing with the second rate position of women across the world and we also deal with medicalised treatments of homosexuality and have experienced torture like treatments of homosexuality," she said. "We talk about tolerance but the way we see tolerance now actually legitimises the treatment of LGBT community today. I don't need anybody to tolerate me. I demand my rights as a tax paying citizen exactly the same as anyone else.".
Ms Grodzka made history in 2011 when she became the first transgender MP in Europe after being elected as part of a new political party, Palikot’s Movement, alongside Poland's first openly gay lawmaker, Robert Biedron.
The conference also heard there is currently no comprehensive data on poverty and social exclusion in the Irish LGBT community.
“Issues relating to poverty and economic inequality have never really been examined in the Irish LGBT community,” said federation representative Ciaran O hUltachain.
The last conclusive research on the topic was a 1995 report by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network.
“There has been much highlighting on the important issue of marriage equality but likewise other issues have fallen off the agenda and it's about reminding people these issues are relevant,” he said.
Transgender Equality Network Ireland director Broden Giambrone said transgender people in particular experience discrimination in the labour market and in accessing treatment for their specific healthcare requirements.
“We recently conducted a survey of 160 transgender people and found 43 per cent of trans respondents in Ireland reported a current personal income of less than €10,000 a year. One quarter of those respondents indicated they are out of work which is strikingly high,” he said.
Due to exclusion, isolation and unemployment mental health issues were extremely high. The survey also found that 78 per cent of trans people had considered suicide and 40 per cent had attempted it.
“We found those who wanted to transition and who could then access medical services tremendously improved their health and well being,” he said.