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Transgender people. All about my country. Piotr Jacoń: it is the state that separates us in some way

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The state takes you to court in the name of certain procedures and says good morning that it has rules. But these rules do not give me a sense of security and do not guarantee a sense of dignity for my daughter, said TVN24 journalist Piotr Jacoń, author of the report “Everything about my country”, in which he raised the procedural problems faced by people who want to determine their gender. In the opinion of Professor Monika Płatek, through the process in which a transgender person has to sue their own parents, “the state washes its hands of the mistake it has made”. – This procedure is fraught with formalities – commented lawyer Marek Urbaniak.

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In the report “Everything about my country”, TVN24 journalist Piotr Jacoń describes the court procedure that transgender people must undergo if they want to change their gender in the document.

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After the broadcast of the report “Black on White” on TVN24, a debate was held in which prof. Monika Płatek from the Institute of Criminal Law of the University of Warsaw, Marek Urbaniak, lawyer of the Lambda Warsaw Association and Piotr Jacoń.

Jacoń: it is the state that separates us in some way

Piotr Jacoń, who was going through the gender determination process with his daughter, was asked about his personal experiences. – You’re asking not a journalist, but a father. (…) A man feels helpless when he crosses this court threshold, enters the courtroom. We went there as a family – me, my wife, our daughter. Our first impulse was to sit together in a bench opposite the court, because this is our common cause. As soon as we sat down there, immediately – and this was the first communication from the court – that we were to sit on both sides – said the TVN24 journalist.

We weren’t prepared for that at the time. (…) It didn’t occur to us that this would be a problem, that we couldn’t support each other, that the state was somehow separating us – he added.

He emphasized that this process is difficult because “you know that it is inevitable, because you know that you have no way out, you are a bit of a hostage to this situation.” – You have a sense of guilt of your, your child’s presence, the fact that we are there, and also such pretense, unfortunately. The state attracts you in the name of certain procedures with its majesty, with the emblem in front of which you sit, the judge who rings his chain and says good morning that we have rules (…). But all these rules only serve the state, not me. They do not give me a sense of security and do not guarantee a sense of dignity for my daughter, assessed Jacoń.

Urbaniak: this procedure is fraught with formalities

Marek Urbaniak pointed out that “I often come across opinions that gender determination proceedings between a transgender person and their parents are just a formality, but it would be better to say that these proceedings are fraught with formalities.”

Marek Urbaniak: gender reassignment proceedings are fraught with formalitiesTVN24

– There is no statutory regulation that would directly contain the conditions that must be met and proven in order to obtain a positive gender determination judgment, therefore transgender people would not be able to cope with it if it were not for the exchange of knowledge with other people who have already gone through this process – he said.

Petal: the state washes its hands of the mistake it has made

Professor Płatek was asked why this process couldn’t be easier. – It’s a long process. It has been handled differently in different parts of the world. IN Argentinawhere for a long time the military junta raged and there really was terror, they came to the conclusion at some point that informed consent is enough if we accept the fact that the misrecording of a person’s gender is really the result of a mistake made by the state, a mistake made by by doctors who first determine the sex based on what they see when it comes to the sexual organs of a person – she said.

– In the People’s Republic of Poland in 1964 we have the first judgment in this case. Ethical, sensitive efforts were made to conduct it in a way that would allow a person to agree on gender, she pointed out.

She also recalled that in 2015 the president Andrzej Duda “he allowed himself to veto the first bill that was finally worked out.” – This is the law of September 10, 2015, adopted by the Sejm. We have been working on this bill in large groups for about three years, she added.

Prof.  Petal: This is a long process

Prof. Petal: This is a long processTVN24

Referring to the process itself, the professor pointed out that “inventing that you are suing your parents does two things.” – Firstly, that the state washes its hands of the mistake it has made, and secondly, there is no place for the prosecutor to appear there – she said.

– The prosecutor can act in any case to protect the rule of law, protect the public interest and protect citizens, with the exception of cases that concern family matters. In family matters, only when the law so provides. Since we made a family case out of it, because the parents have to be sued, I imagine that the presence of the prosecutor would be justified only when the plaintiff, i.e. the person applying for gender recognition, needed the presence of someone who would defend her interests – she explained.

Jacoń: It turns out that you can do otherwise

Jacoń stated that on Wednesday he received information that in Wrocław, in a similar case, “a transgender person was judged only two or three weeks after submitting the documents.” – We are still in the same legal order. Wrocław is still in Poland, just as in Poland as Poznań. (…) It turns out that you can do otherwise – he said.

– The Wrocław court follows the recommendations of the Supreme Court, which very clearly stated that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights is valid in Poland and can be applied directly. The rulings we have had since 2002 (…) say very clearly that a person cannot be hindered from agreeing on their gender, because our gender identity is something natural and innate. It is not a social construct, it is something that is unchanging, and therefore it should be respected, explained Professor Płatek.

She added that “human dignity makes these cases drag on, making it difficult to correct a mistake made by the state is inhumane and very often amounts to a violation of subsequent regulations.”

On this occasion, Jacoń pointed to the guide published by the Ombudsman in 2020. – This is a booklet that has 47 pages. Its not so many. This is a collection of good practices. If the judges and prosecutors had read this guide, this trial in Poznań, like many others, would not look like what we saw – he said.

Urbaniak: The exact burden on the state has never been estimated

Attorney Urbaniak pointed out that “the exact burden on the state has never been properly estimated by the fact that these cases go to court proceedings, which often last for months”.

– How big is the burden of experts in the field of sexology, who at the same time could prepare opinions in cases of crimes against sexual freedom – he added.

The lawyer of the Lambda Warszawa Association pointed out that “since 1964 in Poland, the registered sex in the documents of transgender people has been changed, and in the times of the People’s Republic of Poland it was done by correcting the birth certificate”. – This involved a 5-, 10-minute visit to the court, the delivery of documents, which, moreover, was prepared by a lawyer cooperating with the state clinic where the person was receiving treatment – a short meeting in which no parents were present, there was no expert, then the decision was read out and immediately that person already had the correct act – he explained.

Jacoń: then the state is no longer interested in us

Jacoń was also asked about what happens after a positive sentence for a person applying for correction of documents. “Then the state loses interest in us,” he said.

– You get a sentence, you go to the office on your own, where you have to submit the relevant documents. You are waiting for a new PESEL, a new ID card. (…) The old PESEL ceases to function, and with the disappearance of the PESEL, the medical history of this person disappears – he said, adding that a year after the sentence, his daughter is unable to recreate the covid certificate.

– As we are talking about the act, this act is not only so that we do not meet in court, but so that this whole transition process, which is very long, very complex and endless, is finally taken care of. Also such procedural issues that I mentioned – he said.

Attorney Urbaniak added that “we need a law, and not a law on gender recognition, but a law on improving the legal environment for people with a minority gender identity, which would not only predict what the gender determination procedure should look like, but also what is happening after”.

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