Georgina Beyer, the first transsexual MP to be elected in New Zealand, has retired from her post.
Beyer is also a Maori, and so a minority in more ways than one. Over the past seven years she has made history for transgender people.
Not only was she the first transsexual in the world to be elected to national office, she was also the first transsexual in the world to be elected as a mayor, when she took office as mayor of Carterton in 1995.
Beyer has served in the post of MP for Wairarapa since 1999, campaigning for the rights of LGBT people.
She successfully pressed for transgender people to be protected from discrimination in the Human Rights Act, and has also championed the rights of same-sex couples by supporting the Civil Union bill.
It is widely expected that Beyer will not be leaving politics altogether.
Those in the know believe that she will run for the position of mayor of Wellington during national and local elections later this year, although Beyer has refused to comment on the rumours.
During her valedictory speech, made on Valentines Day, Beyer retained her famous sense of humour. She said: “While I have relished the opportunity of being a member in this House, I am glad I do not possess one.”
Beyer’s is a true rags-to-riches story. Before undergoing her full sex change operation in 1984, Beyer worked as a stripper and prostitute in Wellington and Sydney.
After the operation she became a successful actress and broadcaster, but didn’t begin her political career until 1992.
In 2002 a documentary about her life, Georgie Girl , was released internationally.