Born in 1957, Georgina Beyer was the world’s first openly transsexual mayor, as well as the world’s first openly transsexual Member of Parliament, and from November 1999 until February 2007 was an M.P. for the Labour Party in New Zealand.
Assigned male at birth, and given the first name George, Georgina attended two primary schools in her childhood before being sent to Wellesley College boarding school in her teens, where she tried to commit suicide amid feelings of rejection by her parents. She began acting while at that school and decided to pursue a career in that field, she left school at age sixteen. She lived in Australia for some time, and on her return to New Zealand began seeking work as an actor with increasing success and after moving to Carterton, in the Wairarapa, she worked as a radio host. She underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1984.
She also began to take an interest in local politics, first winning election to a local school board, and subsequently being elected Mayor of Carterton in 1995, serving in that role until 2000. This made her the world’s first transsexual mayor. At the 1999 general election, Beyer was selected as the Labour Party’s candidate for the Wairarapa electorate. She surprised the political commentators to win the typically right-leaning electorate with a 3,000 vote majority and become the world’s first transsexual M.P.. At the 2002 election, she re-contested Wairarapa for Labour and was easily re-elected with an increased majority almost 6,500 votes.
An excerpt from her speech follows: “Mr. Speaker, I can’t help but mention the number of firsts that are in this Parliament. Our first Rastafarian [Nándor Tánczos] … our first Polynesian woman … and yes, I have to say it, I guess, I am the first transsexual in New Zealand to be standing in this House of Parliament. This is a first not only in New Zealand, ladies and gentlemen, but also in the world. This is an historic moment. We need to acknowledge that this country of ours leads the way in so many aspects. We have led the way for women getting the vote. We have led the way in the past, and I hope we will do so again in the future in social policy and certainly in human rights.”