Georgie Stone will play Mackenzie Hargreaves (Picture: Ten)

Having grown up in Australia, it’s safe to say that almost everyone knows about Neighbours.

It is one of those few TV shows that not only garners a huge following, but also manages to make an impact on our culture.

As a kid, I remember hearing conversations among my friends about their favourite characters and storylines. When I would tell them that both of my parents had been on the show, they would bombard me with questions and requests – often for Ryan Moloney’s signature.

I admit, I did not watch the show very often, but the impact it had was not lost on me.

As a trans person, I didn’t see people like myself on screen very often – it would often be a very tragic character, and never played by a trans actor. Because of this, I internalised the message that being trans was something to be ashamed of.

In March 2018, at the beginning of my final year of school, I decided to make a leap of faith and email the executive producer of Neighbours.

I created a rough character profile and synopsis of a storyline that would introduce the show’s first transgender character, and explained that we had an opportunity to tell a story rarely told on our TV screens.

Expecting to be politely turned down, I was surprised to receive an enthusiastic reply merely two hours later! It was so exciting.

I realise now how important representation is on TV; when we can see ourselves reflected in the characters on our screens, it allows us to feel seen and acknowledged.

We exist in a way we haven’t been allowed to before.

Georgie Stone poses with the Hero of the Year award at the 2019 Australian LGBTI Awards (Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images for Australian LGBTI Awards)

One of the reasons I am so proud of this storyline is that I was able to work with the writers to make it as truthful and respectful as possible.

I wanted to tell an overall positive story for all the young people who watch the show, while not shying away from some of the difficult experiences trans people face (these stories need to be told). I wanted the message to be, ‘you will be OK, you are loved’, not ‘you are the problem, this is your fault and you will probably die alone’.

With this in mind, we set out to create a plotline that would be educational and hopefully beneficial for the trans community but, at the end of the day, remain an exciting and compelling story that fits in with the wider world of Neighbours.

It was important to me that that the character of Mackenzie Hargreaves was more than just a token trans character. She is a fully realised human; her desire for love and safety, and her fear of rejection and isolation generate a very interesting dichotomy.

Beyond her gender identity, she is a compelling character, and we’ve made sure that she is different from me, too.

Her dad wasn’t supportive of her at all and she hasn’t seen him since she was 10. Her mum, the only person she has ever felt safe with and trusts wholeheartedly, passed away when she was 15. These experiences have shaped her into a person who always has their walls up and doesn’t let people in.

Her arch is wonderful – it’s probably the aspect of the story I am most proud of.

Mackenzie isn’t used as a tool in other characters’ stories, but is given her own arch where she can grow and evolve, and bring other people along with her.

My wish is that audiences learn from her and realise there is nothing to worry about. Trans and gender-diverse people are not dangerous, they are just people who want to be free to live their lives as themselves.

I also hope that trans young people can see Mackenzie and feel seen, and know that they are celebrated and loved by the residents of Ramsay Street.

MORE: Neighbours’ first transgender character’s storyline will ‘tell a story that isn’t often told’ on the soap

MORE: Britain still has a long way to go to achieve true equality for my LGBT+ community

MORE: 20 years of Putin: Russia’s LGBT people will never stop fighting





READ SOURCE

READ  The Affair season 5 episode 5 review: dysfunction galore

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here