Thursday, February 15, 2007

Georgina Beyer Leaves

Georgina Beyer, the former mayor of Carterton and the world’s first transgendered MP, made her final speech to Parliament yesterday. She has said she’s particularly proud of her role in securing passage of prostitution legalisation and the Civil Union Act.

When she entered Parliament, she described herself as “a stallion who became a gelding then a mare” (in the New Zealand accent, “mare” and “mayor” sound the same). In her final speech to Parliament, she said “While I have relished the opportunity of being a member in this house, I am glad I don't possess one."

Beyer was always frank and direct, which is a refreshing quality in a politician. She never hesitated to take on the religious right and challenge them on their lies, something no other politician was willing to do.

More importantly, her presence in Parliament proved not only the Labour Party’s commitment to diversity, but also the commitment of the country. I simply can’t imagine a transgendered politician in America being treated with respect, let alone as an important legislator, as Georgina Beyer was here. But this is all part of what makes New Zealand unique.

There are plenty of people, even non-Labour supporters, who may not admit it but who nevertheless like being part of a country in which a transgendered MP is simply a non-issue. I do, too.

Mainstream media reports:

Dominion Post: Georgina takes a bow

New Zealand Herald: Parliament farewells first transsexual MP

TVNZ One News video: Transexual MP calls it a day (1:51)Videos tend not to stay posted very long; if it's gone, try the archives

Update 18/2/07: The full-text of Georgina's valedictory speech has been posted at GayNZ.com.

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