Belgium Just Appointed the World’s Most Powerful Trans Politician

Belgium ended months of political gridlock by quietly celebrating a major milestone. The European country tapped Petra De Sutter, a gynecologist and LGBTQ+ activist, as the first transgender woman to ever serve as Deputy Prime Minister.

De Sutter, who has represented the Flemish Green party in European Parliament. The 57-year-old will serve in her new post longside six other deputies. She has previously served as a member of the Belgian parliament, which made her the first transgender woman to hold a seat in the country’s national legislature. When she takes office, De Sutter will make history again as the highest-ranking trans politician in Europe, as well as the most powerful trans leader in history.

Prior to her swearing-in ceremony, De Sutter said she was “incredibly grateful for the confidence I have received from my party. ”Now I can do whatever it takes to relaunch our country and work on a new future for all Belgians together with that government,” she said in a tweet.

ILGA’s Rainbow Europe report ranks Belgium as the second-most LGBTQ+ friendly country in Europe, behind only Malta. LGBTQ+ people are fully protected under Belgium’s nondiscrimination laws, and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2003. It was the second nation to extend full legal recognition to same-sex couples following the Netherlands.

But De Sutter, who came out as transgender in her 40s, has recognized that having a transgender woman command her level of influence still matters to the LGBTQ+ community. In an interview published on her personal website, she noted that she ran for office because so many trans people around the world lack the privilege to be accepted and embraced for who they are.

“This is why I need to do something, for those who lacked this luck,” she said. “I have a very strong [feeling] of justice and find it so unjust that people in the world suffer simply because of who they want to be.”

De Sutter is not the first openly transgender elected official to hold office in Europe.

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