A senior Polish judge has been criticised for publicly disclosing the personal details of a 10 year-old trans girl on Twitter because her school had instructed teachers to use the student’s chosen name, as per her parents’ request.
Krystyna Pawlowicz, a Constitutional Tribunal judge and former politician from the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, tweeted the information on Tuesday. The tweet, which misgendered the child, included her chosen name, the full name of the principal, as well as the name and address of the school, put the child at serious risk, according to the Polish opposition.
The incident shows the widening divide between Polish liberals and the increasingly authoritarian religious right. In last year’s election, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda used harmful rhetoric and called for policies that deny human rights to LGBTQ+ people as a campaign tactic in his successful re-election campaign.
On Thursday, Pawlowicz deleted the tweet “for the sake of the child” and apologised. However, on Friday she appeared unrepentant, writing on Twitter: “Repeated hysterical complaints against me for my Tuesday entry on Twitter are rejected each time, saying that I did not breach their standards, which means that my entry does not contain the ‘hate speech’ for which many here complain to me.”
There could yet be legal consequences for her actions as the Polish opposition are aiming to hold her to account. “Today we will probably file a notice to the prosecutor’s office in connection with what Krystyna Pawlowicz is doing because she knowingly put a… child in danger,” Cezary Tomczyk from the opposition Civic Coalition party told website onet.pl.
The Polish Commissioner for Human Rights is also investigating the situation but expressed support for the actions taken by the school of the trans girl involved, saying that all schools should guarantee “freedom from discrimination, safety, mental comfort enabling proper development and respect for the private life of students belonging to the LGBTI community, including transgender people.”
The mayor of the town where the child attends school, Artur Tusinski, published a statement Wednesday calling the original tweet “disgusting” and saying it took aim at the welfare of the school and the principal.
Tusisnki also said there had also been an “enormous” outpouring of support for the child and that the school is “open to the needs of every student, including transgender students.”
“We do not agree to the cynical use of children in political games,” he said.
On Friday he released another statement asking that, “both the child and the school in Podkowia now need peace. And a return to normal.” He concluded by saying, “Let’s change the world for the better – open, tolerant, with respect for the dignity of others.”
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