28 Jun 2017

Queenstown Rotary elects first transgender president

5:03 pm on 28 June 2017

The Queenstown Rotary Club has officially sworn in its first transgender president - the second in the national organisation' history.

Queenstown Rotary Club president Monica Mulholland,right, with former president  Keith McIntosh.

Queenstown Rotary Club president Monica Mulholland with former president Keith McIntosh. Photo: Supplied / Elle McCammon

Monica Mulholland was sworn into the role by departing president Keith McIntosh last night.

In New Zealand, women were first admitted to Rotary clubs in 1989 and the first woman club president was elected in 2004.

Ms Mulholland is the second transgender Rotary Club president in New Zealand - the first was Bonnie Miller-Perry, the Cromwell club president who just finished her one-year term in that role in Cromwell last night.

Last March it was announced at a regular weekly Queenstown Rotary meeting that one of their male members was transitioning to be a woman and would attend future meetings as Monica Mulholland.

Less than three months later she was nominated as the club's president-elect.

At the time, Ms Mulholland spoke about the importance of having transgender people in positions of leadership within communities.

Ms Muholland, raised in County Cork, Ireland, lived as a man until she was in her 50s.

In a speech to Rotary in September last year, Ms Mulholland spoke of her decision to transition and the support Rotarians gave her.

"When I decided to come out as transgender and finally be myself, I envisioned a fairly isolated and detached life.

"The outcome was far from that. The support I got from my Rotary colleagues was truly awe-inspiring and amazing. It brought tears to my eyes, and those of my wife. We were blown away. They really went out of the way to support us and make us feel that we belonged.

"That kind of support helped me be the person I am today. Their support gave me more confidence and courage to truly be myself. Truly, I did not become myself by myself."

Ms Mulholland's term as president will last one year.

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