Georgina Beyer, the world’s first openly transgender member of parliament, passed away on February 14, 2023, at the age of 63. Beyer made history in 1999 when she was elected to the New Zealand parliament, becoming not only the first transgender MP but also the first openly HIV-positive MP.
Beyer’s life and career were marked by pioneering achievements and activism for LGBTQ+ rights. Born in 1957 in New Zealand, Beyer began her career as a sex worker before entering politics. She was first elected as a local councillor in the town of Carterton, before being elected to the national parliament as a member of the Labour Party.
During her time in parliament, Beyer advocated for a range of progressive policies, including marriage equality, anti-discrimination laws, and healthcare access for transgender people. She also spoke openly about her experiences as a transgender person, breaking down barriers and raising awareness of trans issues.
In addition to her political career, Beyer was also an accomplished author, singer, and actor. She wrote a memoir, “Change for the Better,” which chronicled her life and career as a transgender person in New Zealand. She also appeared in several films and TV shows, including “Shortland Street” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.”
Beyer’s legacy as a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ rights in New Zealand and around the world is significant. Her election to parliament broke down barriers and inspired other LGBTQ+ people to enter politics and public life. Her advocacy for anti-discrimination laws and healthcare access for transgender people helped to improve the lives of countless individuals.
Beyer’s passing is a loss for the LGBTQ+ community and for New Zealand as a whole. However, her contributions to the fight for equality and justice will not be forgotten. As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement, “Georgina was a trailblazer who paved the way for others to follow. She was a champion for social justice, a powerful advocate for those who too often go unheard, and a deeply compassionate and kind person.”