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A small town in France just elected its first-ever transgender mayor

Marie Cau is now the first trans Mayor of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, a village in the northeastern region of France. However, she doesn't look at herself as a gender activist.

A small town in France just elected its first-ever transgender mayor
Image Source: (Top) nito100 / Getty Images (Bottom) MarleneSchiappa / Twitter

The future, evidently, is non-binary. In a revolutionary municipal election, the French village of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes voted for their first-ever trans Mayor. Trans woman Marie Cau was nearly unanimously nominated by fellow council members to assume the position on Saturday. Though she claimed she was "not an activist," the vote has been deemed monumental and many believe that it signals the progressive future in store for the European country. Cau ran her campaign on the pillars of ecological sustainability and building the local economy, the BBC reports.



Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes is a small town located on the Belgian border in the northeastern region of France. It is a commune of just under 600 residents. In March, they declared their votes in the town's municipal elections. They voted for the councilors through the "Deciding Together" list. One of those councilors was none other than Cau. It is this group of councilors that nominated the leader to assume the position of Mayor. While the village may only represent a marginal fraction of the French population, the vote represents a changing landscape for those who do not fall neatly within the traditional gender binary.




Despite this, Cau does not consider herself an LGBTQ+ activist. She believes her role in politics is not a result of her trans identity. In an interview with the AFP news agency, the 55-year-old now-Mayor claimed she simply wanted to focus on municipal politics. "People did not elect me because I was or was not transgender, they elected a program," she stated. "That's what's interesting: when things become normal, you don't get singled out." Her election is simply one step forward towards that future, a future where gender identity is evaluated on a spectrum rather than a binary.



Marlène Schiappa, the nation's Secretary of State for Gender Equality, took to Twitter in order to congratulate Cau on the significant nomination. She wrote (originally in French), "Trans visibility, and therefore the fight against transphobia, also requires the exercise of political or public responsibilities. Congratulations to Marie Cau!" Other influential leaders also made note of her victory. Stéphanie Nicot, the co-founder of France's National Transgender Association, said that the election truly highlighted the cultural shift in how the citizens of France vote. "Our fellow citizens are more and more progressive," she explained. "[They vote on] the value of individuals, regardless of their gender identity."




Cau agrees with Nicot. "The inhabitants wanted change," she affirmed. She has lived in the village of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes for the past 20 years and spent the latter 15 transitioning. While this can be a difficult time for many trans folk, Cau faced no discrimination at all. "It's rare," she noted. "People are kind, despite some flaws." Though she is not engaged in gender activism, she did recognize why her election was so important. The newly-elected Mayor stated, "[The election can help show] that transgender people can have normal social and political lives." Now, she is confronted with some of her biggest challenges yet: "[I have a] blank sheet, an almost non-existent budget, a school that hasn’t been reopened yet, and many other coronavirus-related challenges." Previously, she was a business manager with a background in agriculture and sustainability. She hopes to bring some of her experience to her role as Mayor.



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