Belgium’s deputy prime minister – and Europe’s most senior trans politician – sworn in with vow to ‘fight transphobia’

Deputy prime minister Petra De Sutter takes the oath before King Philippe of Belgium on Thursday

Belgium’s deputy prime minister Petra De Sutter vowed to fight transphobia as she was sworn into office, becoming Europe’s most senior transgender official.

The Green politician was appointed as one of the country’s seven deputy prime ministers last week as a new coalition government was formed, which brings together liberals, socialists, greens and Christian democrats from seven parties under new liberal prime minister Alexander De Croo.

After she was sworn in on Sunday (October 4), De Sutter tweeted: “I am proud that in Belgium and in most of the EU your gender identity does not define you as a person and is a non-issue.

“I hope that my appointment as minister and deputy PM can trigger the debate in countries where this is not yet the case. #fighttransphobia”.

As for personal attacks, De Sutter told local media:I entered politics in 2014 and I was already under attack. I have the skin of an elephant, I am not afraid of attacks.

“I expect it. The trolls will continue but I will ignore them. Fortunately, they are a minority.”

She added: “I wasn’t really expecting my nomination. My name had been circulating for a while in the party but there are strict procedures. So you never know how it will turn out.”

Petra De Sutter takes the oath before the king and Prime Minister De Croo at the oath ceremony of at the Royal Palace

Petra De Sutter takes the oath before the king and Prime Minister De Croo at the oath ceremony of at the Royal Palace (ERIC LALMAND/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

De Sutter, who is a practicing gynaecologist and a former professor of reproductive medicine, became Belgium’s first openly trans senator in 2014.

In addition to becoming deputy prime minister, she will also hold the title of minister of civil service, placing her in charge of public administration and public enterprises.

Belgium’s deputy prime minister is the most senior transgender politician in Europe.

While European countries have had a handful of transgender politicians, Petra De Sutter is now the most senior openly transgender MP on the continent.

Other trans people currently in office in Europe include Marie Cau, who made history in May this year when she was elected the first openly trans mayor in France, and Gianmarco Negri, the mayor of Tromello who was elected Italy’s first openly trans mayor in May 2019.

Several European countries including Germany, Spain, Sweden and Poland have had transgender members of parliament.

The UK parliament has never had a single transgender MP or peer, however.

Meanwhile, in the US, no transgender person holds federal or statewide elected office, though a handful of trans lawmakers sit in state legislatures.