Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, a tiny village in northern France, just elected a transgender woman for mayor, making her the first openly trans mayor in all of France.
Marie Cau, 55, was elected to mayor by her fellow members of the local council, with 14 votes in favor and one null vote. She was first elected to the council by residents of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes in March.
After her victory, she explained that she’s not a trans activist — just a qualified leader. Her platform focused on environmental sustainability and the local economy.
“They didn’t vote for me because I’m transgender – or the opposite – they voted for a program and for values,” Cau told reporters. She added that the village is “sleepy” and the “social link has disappeared,” so “residents wanted a change.”
“What’s really surprising is that this is surprising,” Cau said. “This situation should be considered normal, because the people voted for a team and a project.” She said she’s “waiting for the day that this will become a non-event.”
Nonetheless, Cau’s election is a major step for trans visibility, as noted by France’s Gender Equality Minister, Marlène Schiappa. “The exercise of public and political responsibility are important parts of trans visibility and the fight against transphobia,” Schiappa tweeted. “Congratulations to Marie Cau!”
Cau transitioned 15 years ago while living in the village, which consists of less than 600 inhabitants and sits near the border with Belgium. She says she has suffered “no discrimination nor bullying.”
“People are kind, despite a little awkwardness,” she said.
Stéphanie Nicot, co-founder of France’s National Transgender Association, also commented on the milestone. She said the election shows that “our fellow citizens are more and more progressive,” voting on “the value of individuals, regardless of their gender identity.” She added that while Cau is the first openly trans mayor, “people have been able to pass under the radars” before.