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. 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.

“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.

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.

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