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Welsh town elects nonbinary mayor in a historic first

Gender: The Space Between
Gender: The Space Between 30:54

A 23-year-old in Wales made history when he was elected mayor of Bangor City this week: Owen J. Hurcum is believed to be the first non-binary mayor in the world. 

"When I came out two years ago I was so worried I'd be ostracized by my community or worse," Hurcum tweeted on Monday. "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. Beyond humbled."

Hurcum, who identifies as genderqueer or agender, was elected by council members on Bangor City Council, according to BBC News. Hurcum thanked fellow council members for their support after they experienced online abuse.

In March, Hurcum actually withdrew from the Plaid Cymru party, saying the party "continues to platform those who promote transphobia," according to BBC News. 

Hurcum accused Helen Mary Jones, a member of the party, of "perpetrating transphobia" after tweeting about her opposition to changes to the Gender Recognition Act, saying it would impact the rights of women and girls, BBC News reports.

Hurcum also criticized the party's leader, Adam Price, of failing to act.

After leaving the party, council members asked Hurcum to enter the mayoral race, because they felt Hurcum would be a good representative for the city. Hurcum told BBC Radio Wales this was a shock.

While they may be young, they served as a councillor for five years and a deputy mayor for one year. And while Bangor City might not be a hub of metropolitan tolerance, Hurcum said they were able to live true to their identity.

"And the council has been fantastic," Hurcum told BBC Radio Wales. "There was a trepidation because, obviously, local government has this unfair reputation of possibly being old and backwards, and I was worried that those views may come from fellow councillors.

"But I have had the exact opposite. Every single councillor has been extremely supportive, and the previous mayor has called me when he has seen that I have been getting hate online, and he has said he is there if I need him," they said. "It has been really nice."

In regards to some of the abuse they have experienced online, Hurcum said it was "difficult" and "disheartening," but they found stupidity funny. "They may say I have low testosterone or I am effeminate or I look like a woman," Hurcum said of online commenters. "I am like, 'Oh my God, you are trying to insult me by calling me feminine, even though I am explicitly telling you that I have feminine traits, that I want to celebrate because I am non-binary?'"

"As I said, there is a fantastic team of councillors and friends who support me through that, and if I get hate comments, it is worth it when I get all the nice comments as well, or know that I have helped one individual person feel more comfortable in their own skin," they said. 

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