New Zealand Georgina Beyer, the world’s first trans MP, dies

Georgina Beyer

New Zealand’s Georgina Beyer, the world’s first recognized transgender parliamentarian, passed away this Monday (03.06.2023), the Wellington Parliament reported. Beyer, 65, who was also a pioneer when she became mayor in 1995, had suffered from kidney problems for years, although the cause of her death at the Mary Potter hospital in Wellington has not been specified.

“Today we mourn the death of Georgina Beyer, the first openly transgender MP. Georgina has left a deep mark on Parliament and we extend our condolences to her loved ones,” read a message from the New Zealand Parliament on Twitter. The new prime minister, Chris Hipkins, who was sworn in at the end of January, said Beyer left a lasting impression on parliament. “I certainly think Georgina blazed a path that has made it much easier for others to follow.”

Praise also from the conservative party

Nicola Willis, the deputy leader of the conservative National Party, remembered Beyer as brave and kind. “We came from different political sides but she had the power to break the divide,” Willis wrote on Twitter. In 2004, Beyer helped pass a law allowing same-sex civil unions. Nine years later, New Zealand passed a law allowing same-sex marriage.

Appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II in 2020 for her services to the LGBTI community, she was known in addition to her work on the legalization of civil unions and gay marriage, for the decriminalization of prostitution.

From ‘drag queen’ and prostitute to the congresswoman

Beyer, of European and Maori descent, underwent a sex change operation in 1984 and worked as a presenter, drag queen, and sex worker before winning mayoral elections in Carterton, a town in northern New Zealand, in 1995 and being re-elected in 1998. She resigned as mayor to run as a candidate for Parliament for the Labor Party in the 1999 elections, the year in which she recounted her life in the book ‘Change for the Better’ (translatable as ‘change a mejor’) and won a seat, which he renewed in 2002 and 2005.

Before Parliament, he defended the legal reform on prostitution in 2003: “I support this bill for all the prostitutes I have known who have died before the age of 20 due to the inhumanity and hypocrisy of a society that never gave them the opportunity to redeem whatever the circumstances that brought them to that industry”.

According to Radio New Zealand, the former MP had suffered from chronic kidney disease since 2013 and received daily dialysis until she received a transplant in 2017. “She was a champion of human rights and gender identity,” said MP Shanan Halbert, on behalf of the Rainbow Labor Parliamentary Committee, dedicated to LGBTI issues. “She will be sorely missed, not just in the rainbow community, but throughout New Zealand,” he said.