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Transgender MP fights toilet 'apartheid'

Updated: 2006-05-05 11:40
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ROME - Among the most pressing orders of business for Europe's first "transgender" lawmaker may be fighting over which toilet to use in the Italian parliament.

Transgender MP fights toilet 'apartheid'
Italian transgender MP Vladimir Luxuria gestures during a news conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome in this February 22, 2006 before her election. [Reuters] 

Elected last month, Vladimir Luxuria said on Thursday she was opposed to toilet "apartheid" after a centre-right lawmaker suggested the creation of a special, third lavatory for all transgender politicians.

In Italy, and all of Europe, that means just Luxuria.

"I didn't expect politics to sink this low," Luxuria, a 40-year-old drag queen and defender of gay rights said in an interview with the online edition of Corriere della Sera daily.

Born Wladimiro Guadagno, Luxuria prefers to be referred to as a she and expressed a general preference for women's bathrooms. She suggested women reacted better than men did.

"There are many difficult moments in the life of a transgender and even some embarrassing ones, like the use of public bathrooms. Maybe we go to the ladies' toilet because the men get embarrassed," Luxuria said.

Transgender MP fights toilet 'apartheid'
Italy's first transgender lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria, who entered parliament under the Communist Refoundation party's banner, waits for the results of the vote for Italian lower house speaker Fausto Bertinotti at the Montecitorio Palace in Rome April 29, 2006. [Reuters]
The transgender toilet, Corriere said, was suggested by a newly elected lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, Lucio Barani, a member of centre-right opposition.

Barani said in a statement it would avoid embarrassment.

Luxuria, who has dressed in low-key women's suits since entering the world of politics, is keen not to be considered a novelty along the lines of porn star Ilona 'Cicciolina' Staller who sat in the assembly in the 1980s and was famous for her impromptu stripteases.

Among her campaign issues was a promise to seek legal recognition of civil unions by homosexual couples.

"The apartheid of urinary segregation is not an issue that moves me particularly," Luxuria said. "I don't want the privilege of having a toilet all to myself."

It is not the first time that Luxuria has found herself under attack by the centre right.

Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Italy's wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, attacked her on state television when she was asked by Luxuria whether she wanted to lock up homosexuals.

"Better a fascist than a faggot," Mussolini snapped.