Gender changing soap

By | Entertainment
Behind the scenes with Riley Carter Millengtonand Lacey Turner. Stacey Branning (LACEY TURNER), Kyle (RILEY CARTER MILLINGTON). Credit@BBC Photographer: Kieron McCarron

EastEnders aims to evolve the soap industry as it announces the supposed next step for character gender types by welcoming trans-gender actor Riley Carter Millington to play the first regular trans-gender character in British soap history.

In the past EastEnders seems to have been well known for its way of highlighting different situations in society that might be far from talked about openly, for example quite recently there was a story line about rarely spoken sexual situations. This might have encouraged conversation on the subject and highlighted this common occurrence. Furthermore the soap appears to be known for its variety of characters from unique backgrounds, however up until now a regular trans-gendered character had yet to appear on the show, thus giving EastEnders a first in the history of British soaps.

Some may know little about what trans-gender actually is and many might consider it as an umbrella term for people whom are outside of the gender norms. For example, somebody who is biologically male however is psychologically female thus likely making the physical transition into the gender they feel most suited to. Another example may include transvestites whom are typically one gender and simply dress as the opposite.

Freedom to choose the gender one identify’s as might be the key point to what trans-gender may mean. It’s a topic that may rarely be portrayed within the media, so by creating a trans-gender character such as Kyle, the character Millington will be playing, may open up conversation which might increase understanding and better perception on the topic.

A spokesperson for BBC’s EastEnders has mentioned that they specifically wanted a trans-gender actor to play the role. This may inspire other trans-gender people to become actors and actresses – something that might have been considered questionable in the past. This new announcement may encourage current trans performers to continue with their career path.

Riley Carter Millington. Credit@BBC  Photographer: Jack Barnes

Riley Carter Millington. Credit@BBC
Photographer: Jack Barnes

The new character aims to inspire conversation on the topic and portray the reality of being trans-gender instead of using a preconceived image like some media outlets might have done in the past. This might help the public understand and recognise trans people, thus creating a nicer, more productive environment for the trans gender community to live in. EastEnders may be the first of the UK soaps to encourage these thoughts, however other soaps may well follow in EastEnders’ footsteps, bringing the topic to a broader audience.

So far, the response to the announcement seems to been generally productive and it appears to have brought the trans-gender community together. The public may have participated on popular media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube in sharing their thoughts on the situation. This might have educated people whom might have had little contact with anybody classed as trans-gender, meanwhile rallying trans people everywhere to come forward and encourage self-expression.

EastEnders seems to have gained a new following from the trans community and trans supporters, opening up a whole new topic for story plots to be based upon. This might inspire new writers and cast members to join the EastEnders team, furthering their potential even more. This new development might encourage other soaps to use trans members, however it’s possible it might inspire other aspects of the media to do so, for example other TV shows and movies. It may create a revolution for the media’s portrayal of trans-gender, which might be seen as a step forward towards a free and understanding future for all.

How may EastEnders’ trans-gender character improve the media’s general portrayal of trans-gender people?


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