Channel 4 has revealed a transgender schoolteacher will feature in the soap opera Hollyoaks, just two days after the BBC announced they would introduce a transgender character into their flagship drama Eastenders.
A few weeks before, the BBC launched the world’s first sitcom focused on a transgender love story. Now, it has been revealed that a powerful transgender lobby group is behind each of the developments.
The announcement that male-to-female transgender actress Annie Wallace would play a transgender teacher in the popular drama Holyoaks was made by transgender journalist Paris Lees in a Guardian column on Friday.
Yes, it's out. I'm joining Hollyoaks this month!… http://t.co/oWjeQpoCLs
— Annie Wallace (@anniewallace) October 9, 2015
Just two days before, on 8 October, it was announced that 21-year-old female-to-male transgender actor Riley-Carter Millington would play a transgendered character called Kyle in Eastenders.
Lees credits the recent proliferation of transgender characters and commentators in popular culture and the mainstream media to the All About Trans lobby group; “a project to connect media professionals with young trans people in informal settings,” which she works with. She writes:
“Although we never go in with an agenda for creative outcomes, if you put people with stories in the same room as writers, filmmakers and journalists, it’s inevitable.
“Over the past few years All About Trans and our team of volunteers have met with the makers of Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, EastEnders and the BBC’s comedy department, to name a few.
“The explosion in the representation of trans people on your screens this autumn is no coincidence but, rather, the results of a determined campaign to see better media portrayals of trans people in the British media.”
All About Trans claim that, “to date (September 2015), volunteers have carried out interactions with over 160 media professionals.”
The lobby group credits themselves with bringing the BBC’s transgender sitcom to our screens, trans debates to BBC Radio 1, a series of documentaries about transgendered children to Channel 4, and for initiating Channel4’s “Trans Camp” in 2012.
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) October 9, 2015
Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Executive Producer of Eastenders, confirmed the meetings had happened: “It has been my intention for a long time to cast a trans actor playing a trans role – and we have been so careful to ensure that we cast the right actor for the part,” he said in a statement.
Adding: “I’ve sat in many acting workshops over the years with our Casting Executive Julia Crampsie and her team, but never have we been so moved by the incredible life stories and wealth of talent that we experienced over our several weeks of workshops with transgender actors.”
At the beginning of the month it was announced that controversial American pro-discrimination LGBT media organisation GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) was to launch a UK operation as part of its growing global work.