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France elects its first transgender mayor: ‘They voted for my program’

Marie Cau, first transgender woman elected as mayor in France, poses on May 24, 2020 in Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, one day after being elected by the city council.
Marie Cau, first transgender woman elected as mayor in France, poses on May 24, 2020 in Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, one day after being elected by the city council. Francois Lo Presti / AFP

Marie Cau made history on Saturday by becoming France‘s first-ever transgender mayor.

As mayor of the small northern town of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, Cau has vowed to develop environmental and social policies as part of her “Deciding Together” manifesto, France24 reports.

“What’s surprising is that this is surprising,” Cau told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “They didn’t vote for me or against me because I’m transgender; they voted for my program and for values.

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“That’s what’s interesting,” she continued. “When things become normal, you don’t get singled out.”

A business manager with a background in sustainability and agriculture, the 55-year-old has lived in the town of 550 people near the Belgian border for 20 years.

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She was voted in, along with all the councillors from the manifesto, in March, the BBC says. She was then elected mayor in a nearly unanimous vote, according to the BBC.

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Cau hasn’t experienced any bullying or discrimination since she began her transition 15 years ago, she told the AFP, but she looks forward to when her identity “will become a non-event.”

France’s minister of state for gender equality, Marlène Schiappa, took to Twitter to congratulate Cau on her win, writing: “Trans visibility, and therefore the fight against transphobia, also requires the exercise of political or public responsibilities.”

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Stéphanie Nicot, co-founder of France’s National Transgender Association, said Cau’s election showed that “our fellow citizens are more and more progressive.”

However, anti-LGBTQ2 sentiment, NBC News points out, is still on the rise in the country. Homophobic attacks have risen by 36 per cent in 2019, a recent Interior Ministry report says.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca