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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Transgender MP in toilet fracas
Vladimir Luxuria
Ms Luxuria is Italy's first transgender MP
An Italian opposition MP and former showgirl has expressed outrage after meeting a transgender colleague in the parliament's ladies' toilets.

Elisabetta Gardini, spokeswoman for former PM Silvio Berlusconi's party, said she felt ill after the encounter during a break in Friday's session.

The incident led to heated debate about which toilet the transgender MP, known as Vladimir Luxuria, could use.

Ms Luxuria says she has been using ladies' toilets for years.

Using the men's would have created even bigger problems, she said.

The matter has now been passed to parliamentary procedural officials to resolve.

'Sexual violence'

Ms Gardini said she had been horrified to find Ms Luxuria in the toilets.

Elisabetta Gardini
Ms Gardini is an ally of Silvio Berlusconi

"It never entered my mind that I'd find him in there", she said. "It felt like sexual violence - I really felt ill."

Centre-right MPs backed her call for the creation of a third "transgender" toilet, Reuters news agency said.

But ruling coalition deputies accused Ms Gardini of discrimination tantamount to racism.

Ms Luxuria said she had not expected such aggression in the parliament.

Born Wladimiro Guadagno, Ms Luxuria wears women's clothes but has not had sex-change surgery.

A 40-year-old former drag queen and prominent gay rights activist, she was elected MP for the Communist Refoundation, a member of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition, in April.


SEE ALSO
Gay Italians defy Vatican power
21 Sep 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Italy
27 Jun 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Italy
27 Jun 06 |  Country profiles

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