World's first openly transgender mayor and MP Georgina Beyer has died

Georgina Beyer.
Georgina Beyer. Photo credit: Getty Images

The world's first transgender mayor and MP, Georgina Beyer, has died after a long illness.

Friends of the ground-breaking politician and activist say she died at 3.30pm on Monday.

They said she had been surrounded by her close friends and family over the past week and that she had accepted what was happening and cracking jokes right until her final moments.

At Beyer's request there will be no funeral service, but a memorial service will be held at a later date.

Elected to the Carterton District Council in 1993, Beyer won a landslide victory in the Carterton mayoral election in 1995 and was re-elected in 1998.

Nominated by Labour as its candidate in Wairarapa for the 1999 election, she won the seat from broadcaster Paul Henry with the biggest swing in New Zealand that year and took her place as a backbencher in the Labour-Alliance coalition government.

She was re-elected in 2002 and was a list MP between 2005 and 2007 when she retired from Parliament.

Her election as the world's first transgender mayor and MP attracted worldwide attention and she was interviewed by global news organisations such as CNN, the BBC and Time magazine.

She also told her life story in the book A Change for the Better.

After her political career she struggled to find work.

She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2013, for which she needed daily dialysis.

However, in 2014 she had another crack at politics, joining the Mana Party and standing in the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

Standing for Mana was her way of making amends to Māori after being forced to vote for the Foreshore and Seabed Act during her time as an MP, she said.

Her bid for Te Tai Tonga was unsuccessful.

In 2020, she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday Honours.