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‘It’s life or death’ - Norwich woman explains the reasons behind her gender reassignment

PUBLISHED: 13:27 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:53 18 September 2018

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Georgie Fenn, 20, from Norwich, was born a man and is ‘at war with her own body’, she spoke with Abigail Nicholson about her journey with gender dysphoria.

“I’ve met people who tell me they are transgender and after a few months living as their desired sex, they end up reverting. For me, having gender dysphoria, you have this instinct that you need to get out of your body; it’s like being an animal trapped in a cage.

“It is a case of life or death for me, if my gender reassignment didn’t happen I don’t think I’d be here, it really is that extreme. I think the two year period where you have to ‘live as your desired sex’ before having any life altering surgery, is good for people who are unsure of what they want to do.

“From childhood I was extremely feminine, I didn’t actually have to tell my family that I wanted to change my gender, they just knew. I can pinpoint it to when I was four with the activities I wanted to do, in high school I began to grow a chest and my voice didn’t drop – I was later told I had a hormone imbalance.

“I thought I would be celibate for the rest of my life, which was my misplaced ideology that was making me terribly unhappy. It gave me such depression trying to be something I wasn’t, that’s why I feel this needs to be talked about.

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGeorgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“After two years of ‘living as your desired sex’ you have to be assessed by the gender council, who will confirm or deny your request, around six months later you are put on hormones - for me, it’s a testosterone blocker and oestrogen which will change my hair texture, skin tone and fat distribution. You need to be on these for around a year to prepare your body for the sexual reassignment surgery.

“For me to be ‘complete’ I think I’ll be around 25, I could go private but that doesn’t speed up the process really. In this time of limbo, people are at war with their own bodies, trying to bleach, shave and wax as much they can to try and look as feminine as possible.

“ My first doctor told me that to present as a woman I had to wear dresses and high heels because men liked that. He also told me to lose as much weight as possible. Advice I luckily didn’t take.

“There is so much pressure on what I wear. Once I went out the house wearing a pair of dungarees and I got asked if I was reverting or having second thoughts. Now, everyday when I get ready I think ‘how do I get that level between feminine and looking like a drag act’?

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGeorgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I have found it more difficult living in Lincoln than in Norwich, younger men and women have told me they think I’m disgusting and I shouldn’t be out, I’ve now come to the point where I understand it from the fact that they’re not educated around the topic.

“People need to know this is not a life choice, I don’t want to live like this, my brain is literally in the wrong body. I worry that people maybe think I’m just dressing up to take advantage of women, people assume that I’m a transvestite or a cross dresser and that must be the same as many other people in the same boat as me.

“I have a fear of dread and terror when I think about going into the men’s bathroom or changing room, that much that I have never used a public toilet.

“Strangely, I have never had an elderly person be rude to me. I’ve found that a lot of elderly women have taken me for face value as a complete woman, they even compliment me.

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGeorgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I remember the day I got my referral, I opened my flat door and thought, today is the start of something better and their will be a time when nobody will ever be able to tell… And I haven’t looked back.

“I came from a very Christian family and go to church myself. When they first were me after I started presenting, everybody was silence. One lady piped up and said ‘you’re very brave’ and all the others nodded. My vicar has said that once my birth certificate has changed, he will marry me in the church, which is wonderful.

“My family and friends are mostly supportive too which helps, my grandfather knew that I was going for the reassignment and before I came back from university he knocked on everybody’s door in our village to tell them, so that when I came back it wasn’t such a shock for them or for me.

“Some of my old friends don’t speak to me anymore and when I told my father I was going for the reassignment he was very upset thinking he was ‘losing his son’, but I was never a boy in the first place.

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGeorgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“One day I would love to marry adopt as I have a huge maternal instinct. I remember bringing up this subject in front of the parents of somebody I was dating and they said: “You’re stealing my son’s future”.

“I’ve also had men not wanted to introduce me to their parents because they’re worried about what they will think. I’m still open to the idea of a relationship, but I never want to be anybody’s secret again.”

What is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender Dysphoria is when a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGeorgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

While biological sex and gender identity are the same for most people, but this isn’t the same for everybody.

It is a recognised medical condition, but it is not a mental illness.

Treatments for the condition include psychological support, counselling and hormone therapy.

The aim of hormone therapy is to make the person more comfortable with themselves in terms of physical appearance and how they feel.

Georgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGeorgie Fenn, 20, with her 1966 Morris Minor. Georgie has gender dysphoria, and is presenting as a woman while she waits for a panel to decide her gender. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Signs of gender dysphoria can appear from a young age, such as wearing typical gender clothes or doing activities.

Some people with the condition have a strong desire to live according their gender identity rather then their birth sex, people who do this are sometimes called transsexual or trans people.

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