Georgina Beyer, the world’s first openly transgender MP, dies aged 65


Georgina Beyer, the trailblazing transgender politician who made the history books when she became the world’s first openly transgender mayor and member of parliament, has died aged 65.

She served as the Mayor of Carterton from 1995 to 2000, and then as the Member of Parliament for Wairarapa from 1999 to 2007. During her time in parliament, she was a member of the New Zealand Labour Party and served as a member of several select committees, including the Health Committee and the Justice and Electoral Committee.

Friends announced that she had died peacefully in hospice care, but no cause of death was given. Beyer had previously suffered from kidney failure and underwent a kidney transplant in 2017.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said that while he didn’t personally know Beyer, she was a trailblazer who had made a lasting impression on the country’s parliament.

“I certainly think that Georgina has blazed a trail that has made it much easier for others to follow,” Hipkins said.

Beyer, who was Māori, had worked a sex worker, nightclub entertainer and radio host before she turned to politics. During her time in parliament she helped pass the landmark 2003 Prostitution Reform Act, which decriminalised sex work.

She was also an outspoken advocate for marriage equality. In 2004 she helped pass New Zealand’s laws which allowed civil unions, and nine years later she supported the introduction of same-sex marriage.

Beyer was born in Wellington but moved to Australia as a young adult. She returned to New Zealand and surprised many when her political career took off in the small conservative farming community 80km northeast of Wellington.

Politicians remember Beyer for her clever wit and brutal honesty. During her innagural speech she made a joke about being transgender.

“I was quoted once as saying this was the stallion that became a gelding and now she’s a mare,” she said.

“I do have to say that I have now found myself to be a member. So I have come full circle.”

Beyer has been recognized for her contributions to New Zealand politics and the LGBTQ+ community, and in 2020 she was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to LGBTQ+ rights and local government.

OIP Staff 

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