A former mayor who became the world’s first openly transgender MP has been recognised in the New Zealand 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to the LGBTQ+ community.
Georgina Beyer is a politician and performer whose career politically and in the broader media has broken unprecedented ground for transgender people nationally and abroad.
Ms Beyer entered politics in the early 1990s and was elected to the lower north island Carterton District Council in a 1993 by-election. She was elected Mayor of the Council in 1995 and held office for five years.
In the 1999 NZ general election, she was elected as Member of Parliament for Wairarapa, holding the seat for two terms, and continuing from 2005 to 2007 as a list MP.
She was the first transgender mayor in world history and the world’s first transgender person to be elected to Parliamentary office.
Speaking with 1News Beyer said she was both delighted and gobsmacked.
“It’s a validation really, I guess, of anything I have done that has helped to push forward greater equality… to prove we are a democratic country whereby citizens can stand shoulder to shoulder with anybody else that seeks public office,” she explained to 1news.
“I really do share this honour with all of those people who supported me both over in the Wairarapa and anywhere else in New Zealand, in particular the gay community who have been there egging me on.
“Personally, entering the world of politics and nobody gave me the handbook. I trailblazed as far as the transgender world is concerned.
“I didn’t know how, really to this day, how I managed to navigate my way through. Still produce an output as far as work and my responsibilities were concerned and on the other hand, be a shining beacon for significant minorities to move forward.”
Beyer has delivered presentations at several international conferences, including the First International Conference on LGBT Rights in Montreal in 2006. More recently in 2018, she presented at both Oxford and Cambridge Unions.
“And now of course around the world, we have had numerous transgender people who have been elected to their parliaments and most recently I’ve heard of France has elected its first transgender mayor.”
Since making waves 25 years ago, she said things have changed dramatically in terms of societal norms and laws.
She was a Board member of the New Zealand Aids Foundation from 1997 to 199.
Prior to her career in politics, she was an openly transgender actor and performer who appeared in a range of primetime television features. Ms Beyer was the subject of the feature-length documentary ‘Georgie Girl’ (2001), which screened internationally.
“Here we are many years down the track from that and the sky’s here, nothing has fallen down. It’s all OK.”
Georgina Beyer will be awarded the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit at a Queen’s Birthday Honours ceremony later in the year.
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