Anna Grozdka: As the world’s only transgender MP, I want to ensure our voices are heard
My election to the Polish parliament in 2011 caused a huge stir. I was the first transgender MP in my country, and I am now the only one in the world. So I have a high profile and people sometimes listen to what I have to say – hence you are reading this. But my high visibility illustrates a strange paradox that we as transgender people experience daily. We are highly visible and yet almost invisible at the same time.
Individually you often can’t miss us. On a bus or in the street many trans people stand out, even if we would like to pass as a woman or a man. And because we are easy to spot, we are easy to bully. I have lost count of the number of times I have been shouted at in the street or felt threatened by unwanted attention from drunk men who think it’s funny to ridicule someone who looks different from the norm. Most of my trans friends report similar treatment.
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98 year old dobri dobrev, a man who lost his hearing in the second world war, walks 10 kilometers from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of sofia, where he spends the day begging for money.
though a well recognized fixture around several of the city’s chruches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages, living entirely off his monthly state pension of 80 euros and the kindness of others.