Published: 24.11.2021

Georgia Hejduk is a twenty-one-year-old trans woman and former chair of the Young Pirates. She has a passion for politics and the fight for human rights and is also a graduate of the DofE's gold level awards.

Could you please remind me what activities you have done within the DofE?

I used to run as a sport and set an ambitious goal of running 10 kilometres per hour. As a skill, I had article writing. I wrote a blog about gender reassignment. Subsequently, I also wrote for the student newspaper. Mostly it was media and financial literacy. I had as a goal to write a big investigative article in which I researched a local case involving the overselling of a piece of land over a period of about 20 years. And as part of my volunteering, I ran a project called "Stop the Bullying." I'd already done that project outside the DofE and I linked it to that. It involved everything from administration to delegating tasks to individual work. I did some lectures and it was varied work.

So as a volunteer, you were fighting bullying. What was your motivation? Do you have personal experience with bullying?

Well, I was bullied from kindergarten through elementary school. And then actually in high school. My first high school and a little bit of where I am now. All in all, I'd say it's been about 12 years. And it's still with me. It's given me mental problems and it's changed me as a person. Not entirely - I've always been ambitious as far as I know, but I'd say it's more that I lacked the ability to relate to my peers and probably never will. I tend to seek out the company of older people.

So do you still face bullying today?

In high school, where I am now, I was bullied at first and then it died down. But the barrier between me and my classmates is still pretty big. I had a period of time at my old school where I was pretty bad because of the bullying. It was a period when I was going through transition and had to leave the school because I wasn't accepted as a girl there. I went through a couple of psychiatric hospitals and there was a suicide attempt... These are serious topics, but I talk about it lightly now. I've learned to take it easy. However, the hole that exists between me and my classmates will probably never be whole. The age gap - where my classmates are 19 and I'm about to turn 22 - may not be as pronounced as it used to be, but it will never completely change. But unfortunately, it's a reality I've come to through the life I've somehow lived, and now I have no choice but to accept it and move on and be with people who accept me. College will be an interesting experiment in this. I'd like to go to law school.

So I wish you'll find a good team in college. But let me get back to the bullying. You said you left school when you were in transition. So you think the bullying is related to your gender transition?

That's tough. The bullying started long before I even thought about changing my gender. So, of course, I can't rule it out, but I don't think it's true. I think it had more to do with me being hyperactive and having my own calming mechanisms that weren't always "pretty to look at". And then there's this weird thing - I've always been such a curious child. And along the lines of sort of the legacy of communism - ears that stand out have to be cut off - I think that society just ate me up because I stood out too much. In retrospect, I know that working with gifted children is problematic in the Czech Republic, but it's hard to know if there's any way to avoid it. But maybe it wasn't just bad. It may have caused me to be addicted to computer games, but maybe I learned to "keep my stroke" because of it. I can prove to everyone that I'm good. Even that's not healthy in every circumstance, but it's probably important.

So you think computer game addiction might be related to bullying?

So it's tempting. It's relatively affordable nowadays and the awareness of addiction isn't as great as it could be. A lot of people are afraid of substance addiction, but the computer isn't really addressed. I've thought about it in retrospect and for me it was perfect. I could do whatever I wanted there and it was my way of stomping out the bullying. In the long run, though, it's probably the least destructive addiction. Ironically, the relationships I formed on the computer weren't always non-toxic. When you're in that "pattern" you climb from one toxic relationship to another. I had good friends there, but most of the time I was playing alone. Although, years later, I discovered that I was, ironically, an extrovert.

Do you think the DofE was a safe and welcoming collective in this respect?

The expedition was really great. I praise it where I can, we had a great time. My online leader was great, too. Just attending DofE online I didn't quite have the community, but maybe the DofE club (when I have time to go there) is really nice too, nice environment. Everyone I've met in the DofE has been great. Now, for example, I recently went to a Global Shapers meeting and there were a couple of DofEers there and we got chatting straight away. 

So even as an online DofE participant you can discover a cool new community. As an online dofaker, I can relate to that. Has DofE helped you on a personal level? Apart from the awards and the "ticked off achievement"?

The expedition was really cool in that it changed my perspective on how I can spend my free time. Up until then I was quite conservative in that the most I did in my free time was go on a trip with friends. But the expedition showed me that I want to experience the kind of adventure that the expedition offers again and again. So now I'm relaxing more by going into nature. Now I've been to Germany and I'm going to Switzerland. Then, of course, the DofE was my motivation. It got me into the Journalist Wanted competition, for example. And as far as sport is concerned - it helped me get through a difficult mental period around my operations, where it also helped me keep my fitness up and helped some long-term treatment.

Sex reassignment surgery? Were you in transition at the time of the DofE?

I have interrupted my DofE several times because of this. You don't choose what situation you get into, but it was funny explaining it to my online supervisor. "I have to abort because of an operation." "What surgery?" "Well... this surgery." It wasn't uncomfortable, just kind of weird. There was no problem with it. I just make things so I can't have it easy. But as I said, sport within the DofE helped me through this difficult time.

That's good news. So I guess I have one last question for you. Is there anything you would like to say to other DofE participants or people who are thinking of getting involved?

So say again that it's definitely the expedition. For that reason alone, everyone should consider the DofE. It's a challenge you won't get anywhere else. But generally you never know what it will bring. What you make of it is what you get. I would say that everything the DofE has given me has been a special experience in some way that is different to what you experience anywhere else. That's why everyone should try it. In our environment, I don't think it's hard at all to find three activities and it's definitely something that makes sense. And I would like to tell all the dofaks to never give up on their dreams. To pursue their dreams regardless of what other people think they're not cut out for it, or that they're not cut out for it. To let go of those opinions and go for it, because the greatest happiness in life is that you can do what you love. That's all that matters in the end.

That was a beautiful ending. Thank you so much for your time and good luck in school and in the rest of your life.

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