Georgie Stone is fast becoming a household name in Australia, and for good reason. She may be only 16 years old, but she's already leaving an incredible footprint with her campaign to raise awareness for the struggles of Australia's LGBT youth.
Stone is the youngest person (at age 11) in Australia to be granted pubertal suppression, a treatment which she claims "saves lives." She's sharing her story — which took her from George to Georgie — and it's one you'll want to hear.
In an interview with Australian Story, Stone spoke about both her battle with the court system for the right to take puberty blockers when she started to go through male puberty, as well as the prejudice and feelings of despair she has endured.
"Everyone was calling me a boy, because I was a boy," she said. "There was always something inside that wasn't right. It just felt wrong." When she was aged 7, she started going to psychiatrist Dr. Campbell Paul, who helped her to understand her gender identity and made her feel "safe."
Describing the anguish at not knowing whether she would be able to take the gender-affirming hormones — stage 2 of her transition — Stone revealed that she would have killed herself had she not received the desired outcome.
"I was looking in the mirror, looking at every detail. If my voice started to break, that would completely change my life. I wouldn't be the female that I always wanted to be," she said. "I wouldn't be taken at face value anymore. I would have wanted to kill myself."
After a lengthy (and emotionally draining) legal battle, Stone was granted access to the hormones. And having experienced the court system herself has only made her more determined to campaign for change. "We've been through the courts three times, and it's a horrible, horrible process, and we need to make sure that this doesn't happen to any other family," she told Guardian Australia.
Stone is using her voice to help others, as those feelings of despair are all too prevalent with transgender children, and she's campaigning to make the lives of said teens easier by lobbying politicians to reform the law so they no longer need to go to the courts for approval like she had to.
"I'm hoping after seeing my story, they [politicians] can see a happy, free 16-year-old who come [sic] out the other side," she said. "We all know that transgender children are more at risk of suicide and self-harm between the time of coming out and then accessing treatment.
"The Family Court is expensive, and often delays mean that teenagers cannot get into court before it's too late and they hit puberty."
In addition to lobbying for change on the aforementioned issue, Stone has also been a driving force behind the Safe Schools program, an initiative designed to protect children struggling with identity and sexuality from bullying — and something that is very close to her heart.
Stone revealed her own experiences with schools and their lack of understanding and accommodation for LGBT youth (she was forced to use male changing rooms) during an interview on The Project, but she also realises she's not the only one to find herself in this awful situation.
"There are students who are really struggling, and I know that without the Safe Schools Coalition, life is hell at school. It's important that politicians in particular know the importance of this," she said.
Her strength and courage to speak out about her own journey and the challenges of the legal system makes her a beautiful role model for young Australia teenagers who may be going through the same thing and is a reminder that they're not alone. But while Stone is trying to help save the lives of other teens in her situation, how does the the Chief Justice of the Family Court, Diana Bryant, feel about her story?
Her response indicates that change could be coming: "Perhaps the matter needs to be reconsidered."
Bryant continued, "Well, the law's the law at the moment, and there's only the two circumstances in which it can be altered. I can't do anything about it unless someone's prepared to challenge the existing case law or unless the government is prepared to legislate."
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