Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Book Review - Change for the Better

Change for the Better: The Story of Georgina Beyer
As Told To Cathy Casey
Random House
Reviewed by Veronica Mills

I must admit that reading this book made me feel like a bit of a pervert; Georgina’s journey from effeminate boy to transsexual cabaret star being somewhat more colourful than local level provincial politics. However, as the former takes up the greater part of the book the result is a fascinating and un-flinchingly honest insight into a world few of us visit.

Beginning life as George Bertrand, Georgina had a number of homes – relatives in rural Taranaki, back to mum in Wellington, off to boarding school, out to the grandparents – but was mainly raised by women. She remembers enjoying playing ‘dress ups’ from age four (much to the displeasure of her stepfather), something it was assumed she would grow out of but which eventually became the norm.

A young transsexual, confused and isolated, Georgina found solace in the company of actors many of whom in the gay community. However finding ‘straight’ work was not easy, and she was denied a benefit because of her unwillingness to dress ‘appropriately’. Thus began her time as a stripper, sex-worker, and cabaret dancer, a stage ended by a holiday at a friend’s place in the Wairarapa, and a chance offer to become involved in a local community group.

The fact that this is the journey Georgina has made is the whole point of the book – Carterton would be the last place on earth one would imagine embracing an ex-sex worker Maori transsexual as mayor (apart from say, Palmerston North). That Beyer was not only elected to the mayoralty, but then went on to attract 90% of the vote for a second term is testimony not only to this amazing woman’s strength of character and determination, but also to her obvious skills in management and leadership.

The photographs in the book are useful to get a visual grip on Georgina’s life at the various stages. My personal favourite depicts a very nervous Jim Bolger held in a firm hongi. Another point of interest is Beyer’s claim to be the only actor to appear in Close to Home as both a male character and female. But of course the quote of the book has to be Beyer meeting the Queen, and blurting out “she’s the first real queen I’ve ever met!”

Written in a simple style that suggests much self-reflection and analysis, this is a short and easy read, but also an interesting account of achieving despite institutional stigma, public ridicule and abuse, familial rejection, and a rape. And doing it in sequin studded style.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news