Over the weekend, Marie Cau became the first out transgender person elected mayor in France.
Cau, 55, became the mayor of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, a town in the northern part of the country close to Belgium, in March 2020. However, the inauguration was delayed until last weekend due to the pandemic.
The town has a tiny population of just under 600, according to INSEE. While the victory might have come as a surprise to neighboring cities and countries around the world, Cau herself is quick to note that the people of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes voted her in because of her qualifications and shared values.
Specifically, Cau notes that constituents were drawn to her platform of ecological sustainability. Her plan also laid out strategies that would help build the local economy.
Cau argued that her plan would “wake up the village,” and surely it did.
“What’s really surprising is that this is surprising,” Cau told the AFP about being the first trans mayor elected in the country. “People did not elect me because I was or was not transgender, they elected a program. That's what's interesting: when things become normal, you don't get singled out."
“This situation should be considered normal, because the people voted for a team and a project,” added Cau, who started transitioning 15 years ago and received “no discrimination nor bullying” from her peers at the time.
While specifying she is “not an activist,” Cau explained of the victory that the “social link has disappeared” and that residents “wanted a change.”
Cau's win has also gotten the attention of prominent queer figures in the region as well.
According to the BBC, Stéphanie Nicot, co-founder of France's National Transgender Association, credited Cau's victory to the progressiveness of her “fellow citizens” who voted on "the value of individuals, regardless of their gender identity.”
France’s Gender Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa also tweeted, “The exercise of public and political responsibility are important parts of trans visibility and the fight against transphobia. Congratulations to Marie Cau!”