World's first openly transgender MP dies aged 65

The world’s first openly transgender MP has died. 

Georgina Beyer, who was 65, died today at the Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington, New Zealand.

Her cause of death has not been publicly disclosed, though the lawmaker had previously suffered kidney-related health issues, and had received a transplant in 2017.

Ms Beyer’s friends Scott Kennedy and Malcolm Vaughn, owners of S&M’s Cocktail Bar in Wellington, said the ‘rainbow legend’ had been ‘surrounded by her nearest and dearest 24/7 over the past week’.

They added: ‘She accepted what was happening, was cracking jokes and had a twinkle in her eye, right to the final moments.’

Chris Hipkins, who replaced Jacinda Arden as the country’s prime minister in January, said Ms Beyer had ‘blazed a trail that has made it much easier for others to follow.’

Ms Beyer, an indigenous Māori, was a sex worker and performer at New Zealand’s nightclubs before getting into politics in 1995. She was elected mayor of Carterton, a small town in the country’s North Island.

She became a member of parliament for the Labour Party in 1999, remaining in office until 2007.

During that time, she helped pass landmark legislation that decriminalised sex work in New Zealand. 

Speaking to fellow lawmakers ahead of the 2003 Prostitution Reform Act being passed, she explained the protections offered by the new law might have spared her being driven into the sex industry at just 16 years old. 

She said: ‘I think of all the people I have known in that area who have suffered because of the hypocrisy of our society, which, on the one hand, can accept prostitution, while, on the other hand, wants to push it under the carpet and keep it in the twilight world that it exists in.’

Ms Beyer was also instrumental in passing a 2004 law to allow same-sex civil unions, which in turn laid the foundation for New Zealand’s equal marriage law, passed in 2013. 

Politicians on both sides have offered their condolences to Ms Beyer’s loved ones.

Nicola Willis, deputy leader of the conservative National Party, said on Twitter: ‘I’ll always remember her generosity for me at Pride events where she made space for me as a voice for National.

‘We came from different political sides but she had the power to breach the divide. Rest well.’

Former New Zealand Labour Party prime minister tweeted she was ‘deeply saddened by news of [the] death of Georgina Beyer, adding ‘her wit was legendary and a great asset in parliamentary debate’.

Members of New Zealand’s LGBTQ+ community have also taken to social media to pay tribute.

One user wrote: ‘Georgina Beyer was the first person I ever saw saying so many things I didn’t yet know needed to be sad. 

‘I am deeply and eternally grateful for what she did for all of us by standing up, time and time again. Rest in power, queen.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Source: Read Full Article