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‘Her gender doesn’t matter’: French village elects first transgender mayor

'Her gender doesn't matter': French village elects first transgender mayor

A tiny French village made history on Saturday by electing the country’s first transgender mayor.

Marie Cau, who won elections in the village of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes (Nord), said that her gender was not an issue in her campaign, and that voters chose her for her social programme.

“People didn’t vote for me because I was or wasn’t transgender. They voted for a programme and for values,” she said. “The social bond has disappeared. The inhabitants wanted change.”

A business manager with a background in agricultural and sustainability, Cau has lived in the village for 20 years and faces significant challenges during her first stint in political office.

“[I have a] blank sheet, an almost non-existent budget, a school that hasn’t been reopened yet and many other coronavirus-related challenges.”

Hervé Fontanel, a resident, confirmed that Cau’s gender “doesn’t matter. She has lived here for 20 years, you can see how she works.”

Since beginning her transition 15 years ago, Cau has lived without any discrimination in the village, she says: “It’s rare. People are kind, despite some flaws.”

She recognizes that her election can help show “that transgender people can have normal social and political lives”.

“Trans visibility, and therefore the fight against transphobia, also requires the exercise of political or public responsibilities. Congratulations to Marie Cau!” tweeted Secretary of State for Gender Equality Marlène Schiappa on Sunday.

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