UK

First non-binary mayor has become ‘desensitised’ to online abuse: ‘I find ways of dealing with it’

Patrick Kelleher June 13, 2021
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Owen J Hurcum, the new non-binary mayor of Bangor, Wales.

Owen J Hurcum, the new non-binary mayor of Bangor, Wales. (Twitter/ OwenJHurcum and Facebook/ The Bangor Aye)

The world’s first openly non-binary mayor has said they’ve become “desensitised” to online abuse after receiving hundreds of cruel messages in a single day.

Owen Hurcum made history in May when they were elected mayor of Bangor, Wales, making them the “first ever openly non-binary mayor of any city anywhere”.

Hurcum, 23, is proud to be a trailblazer in the political field – but being a public figure has resulted in them being targeted with vile transphobic abuse on social media.

“There have been times where I’ve got hundreds of online abuse messages in a day,” Hurcum told The Guardian.

“I find ways of dealing with it,” they added. “But I am pretty much desensitised to it now. If I wasn’t, I don’t know how my mental health would cope.”

Hurcum – who is genderqueer, agender and non-binary – also reflected on the UK’s transphobia problem, explaining that better political representation for the trans community could help stamp out some of the “bulls**t the government will pull”.

Non-binary mayor Owen Hurcum says it’s ‘open season’ on trans people in the UK

“It seems to be open season right now against trans people in the UK. And that’s no fun at all,” Hurcum said.

“I’m hoping that we can get representation at the highest echelons and that they’ll be able to direct any government away from this harmful bigotry.”

Owen Hurcum was elected mayor of Bangor in May, just two months after they quit Plaid Cymru claiming that the party “platforms transphobia”.

Shortly after winning the election, Hurcum opened up about the shocking levels of abuse they have been subjected to online.

“It has been difficult and it does get disheartening but strangely, not that it is ever OK, I have almost become used to it in a way,” they told BBC Wales in May.

However, Hurcum also reflected on the incredible support they received from their fellow local councillors.

“There was a trepidation [when I ran for mayor] because, obviously, local government has this unfair reputation of possibly being old and backwards, and I was worried that those views may come from fellow councillors,” they said.

“But I have had the exact opposite. Every single councillor has been extremely supportive, and the previous mayor has called me when he has seen that I have been getting hate online, and he has said he is there if I need him. It has been really nice.”

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