The mayor is a transsexual, so is her partner, and this university city is taking them in stride.

Jenny Bailey, 45, was installed Thursday as mayor of the Cambridge City Council, and her partner Jennifer Liddle, 49, a former council member, assumed the honorary title of mayoress, which is given to the partner of the mayor.

Both were born male, and had gender reassignment surgery in their 30s. According to the Local Government Association, Bailey is the first transsexual to serve as a mayor in Britain.

"This is fantastic," Bailey said after being installed.

She has two sons with her ex-wife, who remains a friend.

Rob Hammond, Cambridge Council's chief executive, said he knew there would be interest in the new mayor's sex change.

"It is the council's firm view that someone's gender and sexual orientation has no bearing on their suitability to hold public office," Hammond said.

Bailey, a Liberal Democrat, previously served as deputy mayor.

"People can take me as a role model if they want," The Times newspaper quoted her as saying.

"But for transgender people, all we want is to disappear and become normal, so I don't want to let it define me. When you go through transgender experience and come through the other side, you are just happy to get on with normal life, normal problems, so this is a wonderful opportunity."