00:37 | 14/05/2021 Print
|Who is Owen Hurcum - First Non-Binary Mayor in the World: Biography, Personal Life and Career|
Owen J Hurcum, 23, has been elected mayor of Bangor, Wales, making them the first ever openly non-binary mayor of any city in the world.
Hurcum joins the growing list of transgender and nonbinary elected officials worldwide. In 1999, New Zealand elected Georgina Beyer, the world’s first trans member of parliament. Tony Briffa became Australia’s first openly intersex mayor in 2011.
More recently, Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner became the first publicly nonbinary U.S. state representative in 2020. Three years prior, Danica Roem became the first openly trans person elected to a U.S. state house.
Hurcum, is genderqueer and agender, and was elected unanimously last year by the City Council in Bangor, Wales, after serving as deputy mayor for a year. Hurcum, who uses gender neutral pronouns, didn’t take office until Monday due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Owen Hurcum took office Monday (May 10) as the world’s first known nonbinary mayor. The new mayor, who identifies as genderqueer, agender and non-binary, posted a photo to Twitter of themselves wearing traditional mayoral chains, a tricorne hat and a sheer black top.
They also become the youngest-ever mayor in Wales.
“It is an enormous privilege to have been elected by my fellow City Council members to the office of Mayor of Bangor,” Hurcum said to NBC News. “I don't take this lightly and I will work as hard as I can in the role to give back everything to the City that has given me so much. I might only be 23 but I have a wealth of experience at local government and a fantastic team behind me so I know we are set up to face the challenges ahead.”
Hurcum wrote: “When I came out two years ago I was so worried I’d be ostracised by my community or worse.
“Today my community elected me mayor of our great city. The youngest ever mayor in Wales. The first ever openly non-binary mayor of any city anywhere.
They added: “I’ll be wanting to use my term to promote Bangor as much as I can, bring in investment and interest and celebrate the multicultural community that makes our city the greatness that it is.”
Bangor University graduate Owen J Hurcum came out as non-binary in 2019
This week, they were elected to be mayor of Bangor in Gwynedd, North Wales
On Twitter, Owen said they were 'beyond humbled' to be the 'first ever openly non-binary mayor of any city anywhere'
The 23-year-old had feared their community would ostracise them for being non-binary but instead they were unanimously elected into office to serve
The graduate grew up in Harrow, London and has 4,000 followers on Twitter and posted a photo of themselves alongside the tweet wearing a sheer black blouse and traditional mayoral chains and ruffles, with a tricorne hat.
Hurcum has lived in the north Wales city of Gwynedd for five years after arriving in the city to study at Bangor University.
Hurcum (https://twitter.com/owenjhurcum) told North Wales Live they moved to Bangor, which has a population of about 18,000, about five years ago to attend Bangor University.
"Within a week, I fell in love with it and tried to throw myself into the city's culture,” they said last year.
Hurcum became interested in politics while attending university, North Wales Live reported. Prior to becoming deputy mayor, they served as a city councilor for four years.
Love and support rolled in for Bangor’s new mayor, describing them as “a trailblazer and example to all”, with many saying they were moved to tears by the news.
Responding to the congratulations, alongside a photo of them in an incredible t-shirt that read “they/ them/ the mayor”, Hurcum wrote: “I just want to say a huge diolch to all the lovely messages that are still coming in.
Earlier this year, Hurcum stepped down as a Plaid Cymru candidate for the Welsh Parliament elections, insisting that the party “platforms transphobia”.
Referencing Plaid Cymru politician Helen Mary Jones, a Senedd member at the time and a “gender-critical feminist” who tweeted that she is “concerned, like many people including trans people, about the possible impacts of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act and the rights of women and girls”, Hurcum said they could not “in good conscience stand as a candidate for Plaid whilst they continue to platform a candidate who has promoted, and continues to promote, transphobia”.
|Mayor Owen J Hurcum is the world's first non-binary Mayor and Wales' youngest ever Mayor|
Owen's new position is a snapshot of modern politics in Wales. Owen said they owe their confidence and ability to flourish as a councillor to colleagues in Bangor City Council.
"City councils have a reputation of being full of old stuffy people with out of date ideas and out of touch policies, and that couldn't be further from the truth," Owen said.
"The city council that I have the pleasure of being in is fantastic. Everyone is not only working their hardest, but when I came out and went to meetings, I came out whilst being a city councillor, the response [was] I just want to support you and how can I do that.
Owen identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. Non-binary is widely recognised under the transgender umbrella and is considered a minority within the LGBT+ spectrum.
Their work has been inspiring over the years, and their new position breaks down the stereotypical scope of local and general politics across the globe. With the news amassing over 43,000 likes on Twitter and going viral, the news has touched the lives of countless LGBT+ people already showcasing that queer people can achieve big in politics.
|Earlier this month, the 23-year-old, who self-describes as genderqueer, stood down from Plaid Cymru in a row over alleged transphobia.|
Last year, Owen was featured on WalesOnline's Pinc List for the extraordinary and selfless work they've done for the LGBT+ community here in Wales. Speaking on countless panel discussions and being a vocal advocate, Owen's work is a true reflection of their character.
Coming out as non-binary two years ago, Owen's public facing role in politics led them to become a public figure and a positive Welsh role model for the non-binary and wider LGBT+ community. Hoping their new position inspires LGBT+ people to come out in political roles, Owen knows that's not an option yet for some.
It's an advocacy job as well if people feel like they could benefit from talking or listening," Owen said to Walesonline.
"It's just finding all the people who are ready and who are comfortable to step into public life while being LGBT+, and when more and more people to that we will get the system change. I certainly plan on starting to ensure better protections and rights into law, particularly for trans and non-binary people."
Around the world, attitudes towards people who identify as neither male nor female are shifting.
About a dozen countries let people mark "X" instead of "M" or "F" on their passports, and during his election campaign last year, President Joe Biden pledged his support for the United States including a similar option.
In Britain, an activist's bid to secure a passport with an "X" will be heard at the Supreme Court later this year in a landmark case that could set a legal precedent for non-binary people.
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