Georgina Beyer, World's First Transsexual Mayor and MP

Georgina Beyer (source: parliament.nz)

Georgina Beyer (source: parliament.nz)

“It is important to allow people who want to be positive contributors of our society regardless of sex, race, creed and gender to reach their human potential.”

Georgina Beyer was the world's first transsexual Mayor and Member of Parliament.

Born as George in 1957, she had gender reassignment surgery in 1984. Before becoming a politician, she had a career in film and TV acting in the 1980s and later worked as a singer, stripper, and drag performer. She also became a prostitute.

After moving to the small town of Carterton in the Wairarapa, she became a radio host and worked on Paul Henry's breakfast show. She also entered local politics and was elected Carterton District Mayor in 1995 until 2000, making her the world's first transsexual mayor.

In the 1999 general election she became Labour's Wairarapa MP, winning by a landslide over National candidate Paul Henry (National was considered a safe seat), and was re-elected for the same seat in 2002.

In her first Parliamentary speech, she brought up her world-first status and said: "We need to acknowledge that this country of ours leads the way in so many aspects."

Georgina was a strong supporter of the Civil Union Bill, which came into effect in New Zealand in 2004 and gave couples more legal rights regardless of whether they were married, in a de facto relationship, of the same sex or different sexes. (Same-sex marriage became legal in 2013.)

She was a keynote speaker at the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights in Montreal in 2006. She stood down from Parliament in 2007 and in 2013 announced that she was suffering from kidney disease.

An award-winning documentary was made about her life in 2001 called Georgie Girl, and she also shared her story in the book Change for the Better.

Sources: Wikipedia, LGBT History Month