EXCLUSIVE: Meet Georgie Stone, the amazing transgender activist about to star on Neighbours

The little girl who changed the way transgender children were treated in Australia is all grown up.

By The Australian Women's Weekly
This article is from the August issue of The Australian Women's Weekly. Georgie is set to make her debut on Neighbours this Friday night at 6.40pm on Eleven.
When Georgie Stone came home from school, she often rushed straight to the toilet, tears welling up in her eyes.
Georgie, who had been telling her mum, Rebekah, she was a girl since she was two-and-a-half years old, had stopped using the boys' toilets, instead holding on all day till she got home.
From there, she'd be in her mum's arms, weeping quietly. "It's so hard trying to be a boy," she'd say sometimes, between muffled sobs.
School was a distressing place for Georgie. Children pointed and laughed at her. When her primary school realised she wasn't prepared to broach the boys' toilets, they insisted she use the disabled ones.
She wasn't allowed to wear the girls' uniform and teachers called her "he" or "George". "That hurt," Georgie says, "but they didn't know any better."
For Rebekah, the whole experience was heartbreaking. In a new book, About a Girl, she gives a mother's perspective on raising a transgender child.
Photo by Sarah Wood, styling by Rebecca Rac, hair and make-up by Julia Green. The Australian Women's Weekly
Photo by Sarah Wood, styling by Rebecca Rac, hair and make-up by Julia Green. The Australian Women's Weekly
She remembers when Georgie first began to tell her that she was a girl.
"You might be the most 'woke' person in the world but when it's your kid, statements like this can challenge everything you thought you were okay with."
"Sometimes," she admits, "when the kids were at school, I'd cry all day."
Georgie with her parents and brother. The Australian Women's Weekly
Georgie and her brother. The Australian Women's Weekly
One heartbreaking moment came when Georgie had just started school and came home asking for her hair to be cut short.
It surprised her mum because Georgie had always preferred longer hair. She told her mum a boy in her class had been teasing her because, according to him, long hair made Georgie look like a girl.
She said she didn't want it short, but the boy would stop teasing if it was cut off, so she insisted on it.
In the book, Rebekah writes: "So we went and got her hair cut short, and I could see something in her shrink. Something in me shrank, too."
Georgie (right) with her family as a child. Supplied
Georgie with her twin brother Harry as kids. Supplied
Georgie recalls another wretched incident when she was made to use the boys' changing room during school swimming.
The oppressive din from the boys who screamed that a girl was in their changing room led Georgie to cower, terrified in a cubicle, as the boys shouted about her outside. She pulled dry clothes onto shaking, wet skin so she could escape quickly, weeping and feeling utterly humiliated."I was bullied," Georgie admits, but her glass half-full attitude is immediately clear: "I luckily had friends and a twin brother who stood up for me."
The 19-year-old is about to star on Neighbours. Instagram
Today Georgie is a glowing example of the old adage that adversity makes us stronger.
In fact, Rebekah's nickname for her cherished 19-year-old daughter is "the Georgie juggernaut" for her determination and her relentless joie de vivre.
Giggling with her twin brother as The Weekly photographs her beside the sea on a gentle autumn day, Georgie is thoughtful, sweet natured and at ease. She interlaces fingers with her mum, walking along the beach.
She checks in on everyone to see how their day is going. Then she twirls in a floral dress gifted to her by the styling team, giddy with gratitude and delight.
Georgie's family describe her as "The Georgie juggernaut". Instagram
Now studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne and enjoying her first big break as an actress with a role on Neighbours, Georgie reflects happily on more recent years.
In Year 12, she was selected school captain. She's won accolades for her activism. "I know this sounds funny," she says, "but I feel like I'm finally learning who I am outside of being trans. And that feels good."
Rebekah is taking stock, too: "I feel like we've been shot out of a cannon and don't know where we'll land."

When she first visited Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital in 2007, Georgie was seven. She was the only child experiencing gender diversity who was referred to doctors that year, and only the third child to present up to that point.
Georgie remembers the "enormous distress" of having to go through the Family Court to access hormone treatment.
Georgie had fully transitioned, and was comfortably accepted as a girl at home by the age of eight but "the court process makes trans kids like me feel like there's something wrong with us, or with our family," she says.
The race was on to access hormone blockers before she entered puberty. The process was painfully slow and incredibly stressful.
"I was powerless," Georgie says of that time. "There was someone up there making a very important decision about my body. It felt really wrong."
Aged 10, Georgie became the youngest person in Australia to be granted reversible hormone blockers by the court.
Many moments of heartache and joy have punctuated the family's journey. The relief was palpable when Georgie "bounced through the front door triumphant and excited", aged 14, upon coming out to her "amazing, supportive" friends that she was trans, temporarily ending years of anxiety and fear.
Once Georgie's treatment was approved, she and her mum set about campaigning to remove the Family Court from the process of accessing hormone treatment, so no other family of a transitioning child would endure this "lengthy, stressful and unnecessary" step in an already highly rigorous process.
Rebekah became so consumed by the cause that her husband, Greg, began calling her Erin Brockovich.
Georgie spoke out in support of diversity after Prime Minister Scott Morrison's controversial comments about transgender children. Getty Images
Georgie has cited Emma Watson as an inspiration, for her blend of acting and activism. Getty Images
Georgie amassed 16,000 signatures on a Change.org petition and secured a pivotal meeting with then Attorney-General George Brandis.
With a handshake then a thud, she placed the thousands of printed signatures on his desk and persuaded him to cut the Family Court from the process.
The campaign was successful. It was the first time she had confronted a politician, but it wouldn't be the last.
Shortly after Scott Morrison's controversial comment that schools didn't need "gender whisperers", Georgie found herself at a luncheon alongside him. She was there in her role as 2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Georgie thanked Prince Harry for the Invictus Games, saying that she found its message of celebrating diversity personally inspiring as a proud, young trans woman. In her book, Rebekah writes that, "as she said this, she turned and looked the PM square in the eyes".
It was a powerful moment.

This gentle juggernaut used the same poise, determination and impeccable manners to charm the Executive Producer of the iconic Aussie soap opera, Neighbours. Georgie's dad, Greg, is an actor who worked on Neighbours back in 2016.
Ever the campaigner, Georgie was determined to make the most of his connections. "If I write a letter and pitch a character," she asked him, "would you be able to get it to the Executive Producer?"
In the letter, she said it was time for a trans character to appear in an Australian soap. Within two hours, an email came back enthusiastically embracing the idea, and inviting Georgie for an audition.
The teenager, who adores singing as well as acting, remembers the moment well: "I'd got home from school and was watching and singing along to the movie Chicago. There were high kicks around the room in celebration!"
Although "super nervous" about her audition, Georgie, who had previously taken acting classes, was selected for the role and felt "just so excited".
As a result, in August, for only the second time ever, a trans character will be played by a trans actress in an Australian TV drama. This happened once before, with Carlotta in the 1970s soap Number 96.
Georgie acting out a scene on Neighbours. Supplied
In addition to acting in the soap, Georgie has been working with writers to inform her character's development.
"It's a soap, so we knew it had to have elements of drama," says Georgie. "I help them to ensure it's truthful at the same time as dramatic by not shying away from the experiences trans people face – coming out, relationships, good allies who listen, internalised shame from bullying."
She even lets slip she's filming a kissing scene the week after we chat, but she's flustered and laughs nervously that she already thinks she might have given away too much.
"You're too good at your job, getting me to give you spoilers like this," she says.
Her character, Mackenzie, attends Erinsborough High School and will have a special connection with a member of one of Ramsay Street's favourite families.
"She's absolutely the character I wish I had seen as a kid," Georgie says.
"I would have gone to this place of self-acceptance sooner if I had seen a happy, high-achieving trans character growing up. It would have made such a difference to me. I didn't know the word 'trans'. I just knew that I was a girl."
Georgie's character is a far cry from the representations of trans people in the media and popular culture that once terrified her mum.
Rebekah remembers the results of a Google search: "Trans people were described as marginalised, drug addicted, homeless. It told me Georgie was destined for a life of sex work, mental illness and premature death – either murdered or by her own hand," she says.
"That's why Georgie's positive portrayal is so significant."
Georgie with her mum Rebekah at the 2019 Australian LGBTI Awards. Getty Images
Today, you couldn't imagine a more supportive parent than Rebekah. She singlehandedly set up Transcend, a referral organisation that supports families of trans people, and she is regularly shortlisted for 'Ally of the Year' at various LGBTQI awards.
Rebekah reflects on the losses she has experienced along the way.
Her own mother died not so long ago and her marriage to Greg has ended, although the two remain firm friends. There was also the loss of putting her own acting career on hold to support her daughter and do advocacy for the families of trans people. As an actress, Rebekah has also appeared in Neighbours, so Georgie is truly following a family tradition.
Georgie's twin brother, Harry, meanwhile, is currently studying creative writing at RMIT.
"I'm glad he's going to become a script writer because he can write a script to keep me in work," his proud actor father jokes.
In the past, he's suffered from depression and in her book, Rebekah mentions that, as a kid, Harry felt people looked right through him because so much attention was focused on Georgie. But those days have passed and Harry promises to watch every episode of Georgie's two-month stint on Neighbours.
"She's my best friend," he says. "We live at home together but we also meet up for coffees in the city as our universities aren't too far from each other. We always get on so well."

Greg Stone remembers "knocking on doors" as a young actor, as Georgie is doing now. His tips for his daughter include "being prepared because there are two sets on Neighbours, both moving very fast".
Then, with a chuckle, he adds: "She'll be better at it than me!"
Greg, who took slightly longer than Rebekah to come around to Georgie's gender identity as a child, pauses then beams proudly. "I honestly think Georgie could do anything. She could be Prime Minister if she wanted to be. She's an excellent speaker and great communicator."
When I first met 16-year-old Georgie back in 2016, she mentioned wanting to be a journalist. Since then, winning awards, studying at a top university and starring in one of the nation's favourite dramas have broadened her horizons.
She is hugging her legs and wearing a comfy cartoon hoody and pyjama pants, as our day together draws to a close, and I ask Georgie what her plans are now, at 19.
Georgie's blonde hair falls across her face as she looks down to consider her response. Then she allows herself a small excited grin and looks me square in the eye.
"I want to do it all," she says. "I feel like I'm finally learning who I am outside of being trans. And that feels good."
Support Georgie's activism with Transcend Support here.
Neighbours screens weekdays from 6:30pm on 10 Peach.
The August issue of The Australian Women's Weekly is on sale now.

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