World’s first openly trans MP awarded Queen’s Birthday Honour for pioneering services to the LGBT+ community

Georgina Beyer, the world's first openly trans MP

Former New Zealand MP Georgina Beyer, the first openly trans person in the world to hold such a role, has been awarded a Queen’s Birthday Honour for her services to the LGBT+ community.

Beyer, 62, was a Labour Party MP in New Zealand’s parliament. She became Labour MP for Wairarapa in 1999, and served three terms before stepping down in 2007.

During her political career she successfully pressed for transgender people to be protected from discrimination in the Human Rights Act, and has also championed the rights of same-sex couples by supporting the Civil Union bill.

She is also known for being the world’s first openly transgender mayor, having been elected mayor of Carterton in 1995, and is one of very few former sex workers to hold public office.

Beyer was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2013, but had a successful kidney transplant in 2017.

On Monday, June 1, the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list was released by the New Zealand cabinet’s Honours Unit.

According to Newshub, a cabinet statement says the Queen’s Birthday Honours list acknowledges people in New Zealand “who served their communities” and “have achieved something special”.

Georgina Beyer has been named a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her services to the LGBT+ community.

The trans former MP told 1News that she was both “delighted” and “gobsmacked” by the award.

She said: “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.

“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.”

Of her enduring legacy and paving the way for other trans folk in politics, Beyer said: “Personally, entering the world of politics, nobody gave me the handbook. I trail-blazed as far as the transgender world is concerned.

“I didn’t know, really to this day, how I managed to navigate my way through… Here we are many years down the track from that and the sky’s here, nothing has fallen down. It’s all OK.”