Georgie Stone is a leading trans youth advocate, the first transgender actor on Neighbours, and was the 2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year. She spoke with the Star Observer’s Katherine Wolfgramme.
At what age did you transition and how difficult did you find transitioning among friends and at school?
I started affirming my gender when I was eight years old. It was definitely difficult to be who I was at school – I was bullied by a group of older boys who had a problem with me presenting as female. It was incessant and it was really difficult to not internalise what they were saying and feel ashamed of myself. I was also constantly misgendered by teachers and students. That was really hard. However, I had a great group of friends who stood by me, and my family was great. I feel grateful I had people around me who supported me. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Your courage and determination shine through. Where does it come from?
It comes from necessity, I think. I have to be brave and stand up for myself, because otherwise no one will listen. I’m brave because I have to be, which is the same for every other trans and gender diverse person I know. Just being who we are takes bravery. Whether you’re open about your gender identity or not, it takes courage to even acknowledge within ourselves who we are. That’s why I’m so proud of our community.
You have won a slew of awards, what does that feel like?
It feels awesome to be recognised. I never felt like I could be open about being trans when I was younger, so to win awards for my advocacy is a really great feeling. I also think it is a testament to how eager we are becoming to hearing trans stories. People want to listen now, and I think the recognition is encouragement for more of those stories to be told and listened to.
Being an ambassador for organisations at such a young age are you always comfortable being a trans role model and LGBTQI youth champion? Was there ever a time that you felt the pressure was too great?
There have been many times when I have wanted to stop. I never set out to be an advocate. Either there was too much going on at once, or I thought that I wasn’t good enough to be a proper voice for trans young people. I still get that sometimes. But every time that happens, I remind myself of why I am doing this and why it is important. Taking the focus off myself and onto the true reason why advocacy is important helps me stay focused and grounded.
Describe your reaction when you heard you landed a part on Neighbours? What was your first day on set like?
I was absolutely over the moon! I was so excited, and it was really difficult not to hop on Twitter and tell everyone about it! But I also got really nervous – I wanted this storyline to be great and I wanted everyone to like it. Suddenly I felt the pressure of having to please everyone. But after working with the writers (who are all amazing by the way) I knew that Mackenzie was going to be a great character, and her storyline was going to be equally as great. Working on set has been such an eye-opening experience. I’ve learned so much from the incredible cast and crew, who are all such amazing people. My first day was really nerve-wracking, but I quickly felt really comfortable and started to enjoy myself immensely! I know now that acting is absolutely something I want to continue doing. I love it so much!
Tell us about your character on Neighbours. Do you feel any connection to her?
I love Mackenzie. She is so much fun to play, because she is a little bit complicated. On one hand, she is quite defensive and doesn’t trust people very easily. It takes a while for her to feel comfortable in other’s company. However, once she relaxes she is really sweet and caring. The contradictions are really interesting – she craves connection with other people, yet she is scared to open up and trust those around her. She has had very different experiences to me, so I think she carries a bit more baggage with her – but there is time for her to grow and come into her own.
What is it like to have such a supportive mother?
I feel very lucky to have such a supporting, loving, awesome mum. She’s my biggest supporter, but she also inspires me greatly. I learn so much from her every day and we make a great team. I would not have been able to get through what I have without her. I love her so much.
Do you have a message for any parents who have fears for their trans kids?
Listen to your child, because they know best about what they are feeling inside. You can’t tell them how to feel, and you can’t change something that is intrinsic within them. But you can support them, and you can educate yourself. That is really important. It’s not about you, it’s about the safety and wellbeing of your child.
Your mother has written a book About a Girl that’s being released very soon, are you excited? What is the book about and what would you like the book to achieve?
Yes! My mum has written a book, About a Girl, and I feel honoured to have written the foreword. It’s about our experiences over the last 20 years – what it has been like to grow up as a trans young person in Australia – and what it has been like for mum as a parent. I hope this book can educate people, and I hope helps people who are travelling down a similar path to feel less isolated.
Do you have major plans for the future?
I have no idea what is going to happen in the future! But that is exciting. There are so many possibilities – acting, advocacy, writing, other things I don’t know about yet! I think it is good for me to keep my options open! I love singing and song-writing. I hope that comes into play in some shape or form.
Do you have any concerns for the trans community?
I notice there is a bit of a divide between young trans people and the adult/elder community. We have so many different stories to tell, diverse experiences and perspectives. All are valid and all should have the opportunity to share. We’re stronger when we don’t leave anyone else behind. Also, intersectionality is important. No matter your race, religion, sexuality, physical ability or gender identity – we all need the opportunity to tell our stories and be represented.
When all is said and done, what would you like to be remembered for?
That’s a tough question. I hope I am remembered for more than just my gender identity, but at the same time I hope I am remembered as someone who found success whilst still a proud, open member of the trans community. I don’t know yet, maybe get back to me when I am older!
The book About a Girl is being launched in Sydney at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on Thursday, 5 September 2019 at 6.30pm. You can RSVP to the FREE event online here.