At only 17, Georgie Stone is used to making history.
The out trans woman’s life is already marked by firsts and achievements that many wouldn’t see or do in a lifetime. Her most recent groundbreaking achievementmaking it easier and cheaper for trans kids to receive hormone treatment after lobbying MPs to remove the Family Court from the processaffects thousands. Yet Australia was so busy discussing marriage equality, it didn’t get the full recognition it deserved.
In a landmark ruling earlier this month, it was decided that young trans people will no longer have to go through Australia’s Family Court for approval to access hormone treatment,a vital stage of transitioning. It was, Stone says, “unfair and discriminatory that we had to ask a complete stranger who isn’t an expert for treatment that affects our bodies, after we’d already been approved by medical professionals.”
Australia was the only country where this step was deemed necessary, yet no application was ever refused. Stone knows first hand how “draining, stressful and harmful” this step was for families like hers; she’s one of the last people required to do it.
“I was 15 and wanted to look the judge in the eye while they made a decision about my body” she tells INTO. “It felt weird. I was powerlessthere was someone up there making a very important decision about my body. It was out of my hands, but I knew this was really wrong.”
Fresh from winning the Young People’s Human Rights Medal 2017 and Young Australian of the Year in Victoria, Stone was just named her school captain for year 12.
“I’m very flattered,” she says. “It’s great that young trans people are being acknowledged, represented and given a platform and a voice.”
Articulate and full of beans but humble, Stone goes to great lengths to name all the other people and organisations who fought for this change. “[It’s] absolutely incredible. A weight lifted off all our shoulders. It was closure after years of fightingwith lots of tears. Knowing no kids will have to experience that ever again was massive.”
Stone was only two-years-old when she told her mum she “wanted a vagina.” By two-and-a-half, she knew who she was, but a long and sometimes painful journey was ahead. She describes it as a “mixed bag,” but stresses her gratitude for her parents’ support. Her attitude is unwaveringly positive; she describes herself as “lucky” despite experiences that’d test the best of us.
“I was bullied, but I had friends and a twin brother who stood up for me,” Stone says. “My primary school made me use the disabled toilets, wouldn’t let me wear the female uniform and didn’t know how to support me.”
She grew up before there was much consideration around pronouns.
“I’d be called out for a line as George or ‘he,’” she says. “That’d really hurt, but people didn’t know any better.”
When she first visited Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital in 2007, seven-year-old Stone was the only patient that year to receive treatment for gender dysphoria. By eight, she’d fully transitioned within the family; publicly by nine. The next year, she became the youngest person in Australia to ever be granted hormone blockers by the court. At 15, she started hormone replacement therapy, with Australia’s flagship TV features program, Australian Story, introducing her to the public.
Stone’s rising media profile gave her a platform to speak out and campaign. She was armed with two formidable tools: her confident eloquence, giving her the ability to share her story to help others, and her Change.org petition, which successfully asked MPs to legislate to remove the Family Court of Australia from medical decisions for trans teens.
“Through telling our stories, we got this out into the open,” Stone says. “It’d been an issue not many knew or cared about, and we changed that through bipartisan support.”
Travelling to parliament to meet MPs, her petition was indispensable.
“We printed out the almost 16,000 names and no sooner had I shaken an MP’s hand, I’d show them, ‘Look, this is all the people supporting this.’ The Change.org petition was such a great conversation opener and the politiciansincluding Attorney General George Brandis and marriage equality champion Warren Entschcould see all the people that wanted their support. It was a great physical way to show them the gravity of the issue.”
Stone says she’s most inspired by her mum. (“She’s taught me how to be outspoken. Words can’t describe how incredible she is, how hard she works, how much she gives, her passion. I learnt I can make a difference from her.”) but she’s also a fan of Janet Mock. “She first inspired the thought that I can be who I am and don’t have to change for others,” Stone says.
Detractors, of course, exist. When she gets trolled, mainly on Twitter, she’s able to shrug it off.
“I look at it from a comical perspective: it’s so ridiculous, it’s laughable,” Stone says. “I read them, but don’t respond. You’re fighting a losing battle with people that unswayable.”
As for the occasional radical feminist opposition to certain trans issues, Stone is equally resilient.
“I’m a feminist. I don’t really listen to the radical ones who want to spread hate,” she says. “Intersectional feminism is good.”
Stone is more upset by the way trans kids were “ripped apart by the No campaign” during Australia’s recent marriage equality debate.
“They were used as a reason for why this world is going crazy and you should vote No,” she says. “It’s not on, and has harmed isolated trans kids.”
It’s those kids Georgie’s passionate about helping. Her next mountain to conquer is to raise $100,000 for the hospital gender service.
“I’ve been using since I was seven and can honestly say, it saved my life,” Stone says. Her mum, Bek, has set up Transcend, an organization which provides parent/guardian support, community connection, information, advocacy and fundraising.
In July, Stone has a special date booked: her final gender affirmation surgery.
“It’s big surgery. I’m just getting mentally prepared for it” she says.“I’m very excited for a new chapter to start.”