elgium‘s new deputy prime minister, Petra De Sutter, knows why she is being interviewed. “If I were not a transgender woman, you would not be sitting here, right?” she says, smiling. “But ideally, this should not be an issue at all.”
She has a point. As Europe’s first openly transgender minister, Ms De Sutter, 57, has made history. Although she could have made headlines as Belgium’s first green government minister since 2003, or for her pioneering work on reproductive rights, it is her transgender identity that has made her appointment such a milestone.
But while Ms De Sutter says she’d like people to focus more on her scientific research or her ministerial portfolio, she accepts her position as a rare trans person in politics. “I have mixed feelings, as I don’t want to be portrayed as only this, which is really reductionist,” she tells The Independent. “But I understand how important it is to be a role model. And to maybe make those that do not understand change their minds. No, I’m not going to travel around the world as the transgender minister. But if it can give hope to people or inspire people, I’m willing to take that role.”