One of Hull’s most well-known trans heroes, LGBT+ activist ‘Queen Helen’ Fenlon, has died aged 64.
Husband Felix Fenlon, who is also trans, said she tragically passed away at 4.30pm on Tuesday, February 9, following a five-month battle with cancer.
Doctors did not know the primary source of her illness, but by the time she died it had spread to her brain, lungs and bones. She was also suffering with stage four kidney disease and ischemic heart disease.
The pair had first met in May 2008 while Felix was approaching the medical pathway towards gender reassignment surgery to become biologically male. They got together in December that year.
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“She had been a big advocate for the LGBT+ community in Hull and at that time I was looking to get on to the medical pathway towards transitioning,” Felix said.
Helen herself had begun hormone therapy in the late 1990s, before undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 2003.
When they got married on Friday, September 13, 2013, the pair were reported as being the first heterosexual trans couple to have been married in the UK.
“I feel like we’ve been together forever,” Felix said.
“She was my soulmate. She was a really beautifully strong and confident, intelligent woman who I just really admired from the word go.
“She put herself out there to be an advocate for everybody. It didn’t matter if you weren’t LGBT+, she would help anybody.
“She put herself out there to move things forward for trans people, for instance making sure they were properly looked after medically, getting them the best care possible.”
After Helen got together with Felix, who is originally from Liverpool, the pair moved into a house in St Nicholas Avenue, off Hessle Road.
They have been living in Elm Street, between Beverley Road and Newland Avenue, for the past couple of years.
Helen had been born and bred in Hull, she got a degree in social policy and gender studies and went on to work at Lincoln University as a trans equality and diversity advisor.
In that role, she helped promote awareness of the trans cause among students, especially those working in health and social care.
She also worked alongside the Care Quality Commission to ensure their policies were as effective as possible for trans people. She also worked with the crown prosecution service to support trans people affected by criminal trials.
But Helen also performed a lot of voluntary work.
Together, since 2011 Helen and Felix have run the Trans Peer Support Group (TPSG) in Hull – a self-funded project to support the city’s trans community. She also set up a community enterprise called ‘Encompass’ towards that end.
“Even in the week before she passed away, she was still giving people guidance and advice in the best way she could, either through me or via Zoom,” Felix said.
“That’s the sort of person she was.”
And Felix has since said the important work done by organisations like the TPSG will continue in Helen’s name.
And while that happens, Felix said the support he has had from friends, family and members of the LGBT+ community has been “phenomenal”.
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Best friend Matty, who Helen had told to look after Felix, he said, had been “absolutely solid” in the months since Helen’s diagnosis.
“Everyone knew her as ‘Queen Helen’,” Felix said.
“I don’t know if I could ever meet a person like Helen. She was a very special person.”
-- to www.hulldailymail.co.uk