Marie Cau was elected as the mayor of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes.

Marie Cau has made history in France after becoming the first trans person to be elected as mayor in the country’s history. She was unanimously voted in as mayor by the council of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes, in northeastern France on Saturday (23 May).

Cau was elected as a councillor by the residents of the region, which number around 600, during municipal elections in March.

She ran on a platform of ecological sustainability and building the local economy. Speaking to the AFP, she insisted that she wanted to focus on local politics, saying: “People did not elect me because I was or was not transgender, they elected a programme.”

Describing herself as “not an activist” she added: “That’s what’s interesting: when things become normal, you don’t get singled out.”

Her election was welcomed by France’s gender equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, who wrote: “Trans visibility, and the fight against transphobia, also depends on exercising political and public responsibilities. Congratulations Marie Cau!”

Stéphanie Nicot, the co-founder of France’s National Transgender Association said that Marie’s election showed that “our fellow citizens are more and more progressive” and that they vote on “the value of individuals, regardless of their gender identity.”

However, despite Marie’s election, anti-LGBTQ sentiment is on the rise in France. It was recently reported that homophobic attacks and incidents in the country had increased by 36% from the previous year.

Figures from the Interior Ministry showed that there were 1,870 victims of homophobic or transphobic incidents in the country last year, compared to 1,380 in 2017. Most of the victims were men, and people under the age of 35.

In a statement, the Ministry said: “These figures testify to the deep anchoring of homophobia and transphobia in society.”

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