‘Queen’ Helen Fenlon, tireless LGBT+ advocate who made history as half of the UK’s first married trans couple, dies aged 64
LGBT+ activist and trailblazer Helen Fenlon, whose wedding to husband Felix was reported as the first time a trans man and trans woman had married in the UK, has sadly died at the age of 64.
Husband Felix Fenlon, who is also trans, said Helen passed away on 9 February following a five-month battle with cancer.
According to Hull Live, doctors are unsure what the primary source of her illness was, but by the time she died it had spread to her brain, lungs and bones. She was also suffering from stage four kidney disease and ischemic heart disease.
Helen and Felix Fenlon made headlines in 2013 when they shared their wedding with the world. They married after being together for six years.
Speaking to ITV at the time, Mr Fenlon said: “It was magical. It was everything I wanted. It far exceeded my expectations,” and Mrs Fenlon simply said: “It went fantastic. It was perfect”.
Mrs Fenlon said the couple decided to go public about their marriage and transitions because they want to show a “successful outcome to other trans people, and show that there is a life beyond all of the discrimination”.
Mr Fenlon said his wife had been a “big advocate for the LGBT+ community in Hull” at the time he was looking to get on the medical pathway towards transitioning.
Mrs Fenlon herself had begun hormone therapy in the late 1990s before undergoing gender affirmation surgery in 2003.
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She was born and lived in Hull throughout her life. Mrs Fenlon got a degree in social policy and gender studies and went on to work at Lincoln University as a trans equality and diversity advisor.
She also worked alongside the Care Quality Commission to ensure their policies were effective for trans people, and with the Crown Prosecution Service to support trans people affected by criminal trials.
The couple has run the Trans Peer Support Group (TPSG) – a self-funded project to support Hull’s trans community – since 2011. Mr Fenlon said the important work done by TPSG will continue in his wife’s name. He shared how she continued to care and support others, even when she was in the hospital.
Mr Fenlon said: “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.
“That’s the sort of person she was.”